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Noah Feldman

Texas Abortion Case Tests Kennedy's Commitment

The justice's key defense of liberty came in the last big reproductive rights decision.
Open in Texas, for now.

Open in Texas, for now.

Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

With a new Supreme Court balance somewhere on the horizon, the end is coming for Justice Anthony Kennedy’s dominance of the court. The abortion case Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt may be his swan song, and his last chance to leave a long-term impact on abortion rights.

That’s hugely significant for the case that’ll be argued Wednesday. The fate of Texas’s restrictive abortion laws turns on the interpretation of the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And Casey was the case in which Kennedy first formulated the vision of autonomy and dignity that led him to become a pioneer of constitutional rights for gay people. Casey is the heart of Kennedy’s legacy -- and he’ll want to preserve it.