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Supreme Court upholds 'partial-birth' abortion ban

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday upheld the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 [PDF text]. In Gonzales v. Carhart [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report], the Court held that groups challenging the ban on "partial-birth" abortions [JURIST news archive] "have not demonstrated that the Act, as a facial matter, is void for vagueness, or that it imposes an undue burden on a woman's right to abortion based on its overbreadth or lack of a health exception." Carhart was consolidated with Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood [Duke Law case backgrounder], and the Supreme Court reversed the federal appeals court decisions in both cases. Wednesday's 5-4 decision marks the first time the Court has upheld a complete ban on an abortion procedure. Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Kennedy, along with a concurrence [text] from Justice Thomas, and a dissent [text] from Justice Ginsburg. SCOTUSblog has more. AP has additional coverage.

In a second 5-4 decision handed down Wednesday, the Court held in James v. United States [Duke Law case backgrounder] that attempted burglary, as defined by Florida law, qualifies as a "violent felony" under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) [44 USC 924 text]. Under the ACCA, defendants may subjected to longer sentences if the defendant has three prior convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses. James unsuccessfully argued that his Florida conviction for attempted burglary did not qualify as a violent felony under the ACCA. The Supreme Court affirmed the Eleventh Circuit's decision [PDF text] in the case. Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Alito, along with a dissent [text] from Justice Scalia and a second dissent [text] from Justice Thomas. AP has more.

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