Legal Backgrounder: The Supreme Court Charts a New Direction on Abortion Jurisprudence in Gonzales v. Carhart
A Pew Forum legal backgrounder examines the new direction in jurisprudence charted by the Supreme Court’s April 2007 ruling that the Federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act does not violate the constitutional right to abortion.
High Court Decision Could Raise Abortion’s Profile in Campaign
Although the court did not entirely eliminate the health exception, Wednesday’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding a federal law banning a controversial abortion procedure probably made the waiver less meaningful. This will almost certainly energize both sides in the abortion debate and put pressure on presidential contenders to take clearer positions on the issue.
News Leaks Remain Divisive, but Libby Case Has Little Impact
Attitudes towards news leaks are virtually the same now as in 1986, with the public about evenly split between those who say leaks serve the public interest and those who say they harm it.
Democrats Fail to Impress in First 100 Days
As the Democratic-led Congress approaches the 100-day mark, pluralities approve of House Speaker Pelosi’s and Senate Majority Leader Reid’s leadership. But Democrats get mixed reviews on campaign promises and policies and proposals.
Solid Majority Favors Congressional Troop Deadline
40% now say the situation in Iraq is going fairly or very well but nearly six in ten want their representative to vote for a withdrawal deadline and only 36% think the U.S. troop buildup will work.
Broad Support for Political Compromise in Washington
A large majority of the American public thinks the country is more politically polarized than in the past, and an even greater number expresses a strong desire for political compromise. Fully three-quarters say they like political leaders who are willing to compromise, compared with 21% who see this as a negative trait.
Public Cheers Democratic Victory
The Democrats’ big win on Nov. 7 has gotten a highly favorable response from the public. In fact, initial reactions to the Democratic victory are as positive as they were to the GOP’s electoral sweep of Congress a dozen years ago.
Democrats Made Gains in All Regions of the Country
With roughly 95% of the votes tallied so far in House races across the country, the overall partisan breakdown is 52% for Democratic candidates, 46% for Republican candidates and 2% for others. In actual votes, Democratic House candidates in 2006 have already tallied nearly 5 million more votes than they did in 2002, while the Republican tally is down more than 3 million from four years ago.
The Real Message of the Midterms
A sweeping election tends to invite sweeping conclusions — and the Democrats’ takeover of both houses of Congress this November provides a tempting array of opportunities for exaggeration or misinterpretation. With that in mind, let’s look at the major lessons to be gleaned from the exit polls and opinion polls about how America voted this November.
Voter Turnout and Congressional Change
In recent decades, there have been three basic ways that turnout has worked to produce the sort of “big wave” midterm that the Democrats are hoping for next week.