Ask Swampland Delayed, Meanwhile: Ask Scalia!

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The Correspondents’ dinner is still wreaking a little havoc with my head. Will get to your questions ASAP.

Speaking of the dinner: Yes, a good friend (best friend, really) and I had a lengthy, animated, and basically serious conversation with Justice Scalia at the Vanity Fair party after the dinner. We discussed the partial birth abortion ban decision and debated how a federal ban squared with his “originalist” interpretation. I also asked him to come clean: Thomas is dumb as a post, right? Falls asleep during arguments, etc? He defended his colleague ably.

I wish I had thought to ask him about going hunting with Cheney or light opera, but post Rich Little, comedy was not on our minds. For some reason we were fairly intent on getting some answers about the logic of the decision. We wanted to suss out if the Justice knew the circumstances that the procedure is conducted under (i.e., very rare, the women who have it have aren’t accidental pregnancies but rather women who have made the “choice” to become pregnant but who , for medical reasons,* face this horrible decision late in their term). He acknowledged our concerns, but simply argued that the circumstances of the procedure shouldn’t influence the legal question of constitutionality. It’s a good point, but it doesn’t mean that real-world consequences are irrelevant, either.

Good times. Good times.

UPDATE: Karen has a great piece looking at the spin on both sides of this issue — and suggests “medical reasons”* might be a misleading way to describe the reasons for electing for the procedure. I’d argue this depends on whether you think opting for “partial birth” over the less controversial method should take into account future medical concerns:

The only real difference for the fetus is where the abortion occurs: as dismemberment in the uterus, or as intact destruction several inches down the birth canal. But for the woman, there is often a big difference. Medical professionals who use the more controversial procedure say it is significantly easier on the woman, and that it could make a difference in her ability to bear children later in life.

All said, really, a real show-stopper of a debate. I’m sure we’ll be invited to re-enact it at weddings and birthdays.

UPDATE: A commenter asks, so fyi: Time’s guests for the event included Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Gayle King — and no one from the administration.

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