• This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," April 21, 2007.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," Justice Anthony Kennedy joins the majority in upholding the ban on partial- birth abortion. Is this new conservative Supreme Court?

    Plus, attorney general Gonzales takes a beating on Capitol Hill for his role in the firing of 8 U.S. attorneys.

    In the wake of the Virginia shootings a fresh look at the way universities can and should deal with students who are mentally ill.

    But first, these headlines.


    GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    The Supreme Court handed abortion foes a partial victory Wednesday, upholding a ban on a specific late-term procedure. The 5-4 decision, written by Anthony Kennedy said, the partial-birth abortion ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003, does not impose an undue burden on a woman right to abortion.

    Jan Crawford Greenburg is the author of the new book, "Supreme Conflict: the inside story for the struggle for control of the United States Supreme court." She joins me from Washington.

    Jan Crawford Greenburg, welcome to the program.


    GIGOT: The decision this week was argued on fairly narrow grounds. What does it tell but the Supreme Court's direction on abortion?

    GREENBURG: Well I mean this is a new court and the decision really clearly showed us that — just keep in mind it was just seven years ago a very different Supreme Court struck down similar state laws that ban partial-birth abortions. But that was when justice Sandra Day O'Connor was on the court. John Roberts, Sam Alito were yet to be on nominated. So I think this decision shows this new Supreme Court is going to turn more to the right and go in a conservative direction.

    GIGOT: It was interesting that this Supreme Court in this decision this week didn't overturn the 2000 ruling. Instead really just outlawing a specific abortion practice. Did that — did that surprise you that they didn't overthrow the earlier decision?

    GREENBURG: No, it didn't. And they didn't have to. Some thought that would be the principled way to go. But the reason that this decision is such a blockbuster, such a significant ruling, is the language in the opinion.

    Justice Kennedy writing very strongly for the court, emphasizing that states have a role in the abortion debate. States can make moral choices that the court, for so long, had ignored those choices.

    That's all new. We have never seen that from the Supreme Court. There are five justices now on the Supreme Court that think states should have a bigger role in the abortion debate. And I think that means we will see more restrictions on abortion, more regulations on abortion.

    This is not a Supreme Court that's going to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Justice Kennedy will not overturn that landmark decision. But I think this decision does show — Wednesday's decision does show this is a court that will allow more restrictions and regulations on abortion.

    And you know, that's not so far from where a lot of people in this country are.

    GIGOT: What about Chief Justice Roberts and Samuel Alito? They didn't write concurring opinions or dissents in this case. Is there any indication where they would come out, particularly when it comes to overturning precedents because some of the critics of this ruling on the left, and some of the supporters on the right, said, "Boy, it is only a matter of time before Roe v. Wade gets overturned.