At stake, writes Emily Bazelon, is whether the next justice would shatter the thin majority that supported "an O'Connor-crafted test that allows states to regulate abortion as long as they don't put an 'undue burden' on a woman exercising her right to it."
First, in this article, Bazelon reviews what is known about where potential nominees stand on abortion -- "The Frontrunners on Roe." Then, in this article, William Saletan offers an assessment of why he believes Bush will feel compelled to nominate a justice farther to the right than Alberto Gonzales:
Since , pro-lifers have picked up one seat (Clarence Thomas for Thurgood Marshall), and pro-choicers have picked up another (Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Byron White). That leaves O'Connor's successor to decide the (parental notification) issue.
And guess which two issues are heading to the court next? That's right. A month ago, the justices agreed to hear a parental-notification case from New Hampshire. The federal ban on partial-birth abortions isn't far behind.
Politically speaking (for Bush), Gonzales is exactly the wrong guy to put on the court right before the New Hampshire case. He's the guy pro-choicers quoted when they went after another Bush appointee, Judge Priscilla Owen.
Gonzales' quote — that Owen pursued "an unconscionable act of judicial activism" — took place during an argument on the Texas Supreme Court. The issue was parental notification. Owen was on the right. Gonzales was on the left.