May 28, 2019

Supreme Court rules on two Indiana abortion petitions

Capitol Hill on May 23. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court today reinstated an Indiana law that requires the burial or cremation of fetal remains after an abortion. At the same time, it chose not to revive a part of the same law that banned abortions intended to select the sex or race of a child.

Between the lines: The court offered explicit reassurances that its rulings today did not touch the fundamental principles of Roe v. Wade — but the justices' ideological divisions were nevertheless on full display.

Details: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down both parts of Indiana's anti-abortion law, and the appeal to the Supreme Court was seen as a potential referendum on Roe v. Wade.

  • But the court wrote that its fetal-remains ruling "does not implicate" broader questions about women's right to an abortion.
  • And it said it would simply stay out of any debate over sex- and race-selective abortions because only one federal appeals court has dealt with the issue.
  • Those decisions were issued "per curiam," or for the court — a tool the justices employ when they wish to speak with one voice, rather than in a traditional decision written by an individual justice.

Yes, but: Even as the court tried to speak with one voice, it engendered plenty of dissent.

  • Two liberals — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor — said the court shouldn't have gotten involved in the fetal-remains question.
  • And conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote his own opinion about sex- and race-selective abortion, calling it "a tool of modern-day eugenics" and reiterating his opposition to abortion generally.

The bottom line: The court avoided core abortion questions today, but, as Thomas wrote, "cannot avoid them forever."

Go deeper: Where abortion restrictions stand: The states that have passed laws

Go deeper

Inside Trump's antifa tweet

President Trump at Cape Canaveral on May 30. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests continued across the country for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, as demonstrators called for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd, EMT Breonna Taylor, jogger Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black Americans who have suffered at the hands of racism and police brutality.

What's happening: Protestors in D.C. broke one police barricade outside the White House on Sunday evening after reportedly demonstrating for several hours. The atmosphere was still largely peaceful as of 6pm ET.

Trump privately scolded, warned by allies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Over the past couple of days, numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically.

Behind the scenes: The biggest source of internal concern was Trump's escalatory tweet, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Some advisers said it could damage him severely with independent voters and suburban women.