Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Roe v Wade and the Cowardice of the States

Today is the 41st anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision overturning the abortion statutes of the vast majority of the states (48 if my memory is correct).  Tens of thousands, including several bishops of the Anglican Church in North America, will walk in the snow today in Washington in protest in the 40th March for Life.

I myself participated in at least two Marches for Life back in the early 80’s.  One of them was in the snow as well.

The damage Roe v Wade inflicted extends far beyond life issues.  It made a mockery of the Constitution, of democracy, and of Constitutional federalism by asserting that the Constitution somehow demanded striking down the abortion statutes of most states and replacing them with a regime of abortion-on-demand virtually all the way to birth.

Roe v Wade was a coup against Constitutional democracy and against the states by men acting as dictators in black robes.  Justice Byron White’s dissent calling it “an exercise of raw judicial power” put it nicely.  He also stated:

I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court's judgment.

That is because there was nothing.

What is saddest of all is that the Supreme Court got away with it.  Yes, there has been strong movement ever since to undo Roe v Wade in various fashions, from Constitutional Amendments to a Human Life Statute to working for good Supreme Court appointments and more.

But what should have happened was defiance.  The Supreme Court may interpret the Constitution.  But it cannot obliterate it then rewrite it in its own image; or at least it should not be able so to do.  This was an absurd and outrageous ruling, really a coup against the Constitution, and should have immediately been given the respect it deserved – none. 

The states, even states moving toward liberalizing abortion laws, should have told the Supreme Court what they could do with its ruling, with its brazen attack on their rights to defend life, and then defied the ruling and carried on with their own laws as best they could.  This awful ruling was an opportunity to rally the people and the states to put the Supreme Court and the Feds in their place and to revive Constitutional governance.  And if the new President, Richard Nixon, had any principles, he should have encouraged and supported such efforts by publicly and clearly refusing to allow the Executive Branch to enforce the ruling.

But did any state so attempt to defend the Constitution and the lives of the unborn?  Any state?

The answer is what I find saddest of all about January 22nd.

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