When I began my year as Justice LEWIS POWELL's law clerk, my co-clerks and I asked him at lunch to discuss his views on abortion. Powell was a true conservative and a product of Mr. Jefferson's Virginia. Why, then, did he join the majority in Roe v. Wade? His answer wasn't about constitutional theory or the "Framers' Intent." Instead, he told the story of a young, black messenger at his old law firm in Richmond. The youth came to him terrified that he would be arrested for the death of his girlfriend, whom he'd helped get an illegal abortion at the...

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