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Roe v. Wade Almost Overturned in 1992

1           ROE V. WADE  WAS ALMOST OVERTURNED in 1992 The Supreme Court was ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, but Justice Kennedy got cold feet, and the vote went the other way. Kennedy delivered in person to Blackmun the news: a trio of Republican-appointed justices had secretly formed a team to preserve the right to abortion. [NYT: 4Mar04 THE BLACKMUN PAPERS] Internal notes in the papers of late Justice Blackmun provide a glimpse of the secretive dealings that led to the court’s ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey [1992]. The files contain memos from Blackmun’s law clerks suggesting changes or strategies that might persuade more justices to join his views. Blackmun had written the Roe ruling in 1973, and had guarded it from previous attack by conservative justices. Blackmun’s notes show that Chief Justice Rehnquist led a 5-justice majority to overrule Roe. Four other justices voting with Rehnquist were to be White, Scalia, Thomas & Kennedy. Rehnquist himself was to write the majority opinion. [Anne Gearan, AP http://www.newsday.com, 4Mar04] Blackmun’s daughter became pregnant 7 years before Roe. She quit college and married her 20-year-old boyfriend. She lost her child to a miscarriage following the wedding; her marriage collapsed in 1972. Her father asked for her input for Roe. Today, Sally Blackmun is an attorney on the board of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando and, in May, will become chair of that organization. She led a recent $3 million effort to construct a new PP facility in Central Florida. [ple-news, 365, 5Mar04]