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Some See Opening for 'Roe' Overturn in New Court Ruling
NC Register ^ | January 29, 2010 | CARLOS BRICEŅO

Posted on 01/29/2010 4:22:37 PM PST by NYer


The U.S. Supreme Court justices gather for an official picture at the court in Washington Sept. 29. Seated in the front row are, left to right, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and in the back row are Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week was seen as encouraging for the pro-life movement in two ways.
Though the case had nothing to do with abortion, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a victory for organizations such as the National Right to Life Committee in that it affirmed the right to advertise on issues right before an election.

The ruling also contained a tantalizing nugget that reminded observers that precedents in the court’s history are not always cast in stone.

The Jan. 21 ruling struck down a provision of the McCain-Feingold Act limiting corporate political ads. The pro-life community has been buzzing with chatter that Citizens United might open a path to striking down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that found most restrictions against abortion unconstitutional.

In his concurring opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote about the possibility that a “precedent’s underlying reasoning” could “become so discredited that the court cannot keep the precedent alive without jury-rigging new and different justifications to shore up the original mistake.”

The opinion brought to mind Roberts’ 2005 Senate confirmation hearings, when he seemed to affirm Roe. “It’s settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis,” he said at the time. “To avoid an arbitrary discretion in the judges, they need to be bound down by rules and precedents. ... I do think that it is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent. Precedent plays an important role in promoting stability and evenhandedness.”

Stare decisis (from the Latin phrase Stare decisis et non quieta movere, “Maintain what has been decided and do not alter what has been established”) is a basic legal principle that prior applicable precedent usually must be followed even though the case, if considered anew, might be decided differently by the current justices. This principle is based on the assumption that certainty, predictability and stability in the law are major objectives of the legal system, because parties should be able to regulate their conduct and enter into relationships with reasonable assurance of the governing rules of law.

Though his opinion in Citizens United seemed to suggest that judges need not necessarily be “bound down by rules and precedents,” should a challenge to Roe someday reach the high court, some prominent pro-life legal experts said it is still highly unlikely the comments could open a path to Roe’s demise in the near future.

“I don’t think there is anything here that gives us any signal about any imminent overruling of Roe v. Wade,” said Hadley Arkes, a professor of jurisprudence at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
The court was considering a case involving a conservative nonprofit corporation, Citizens United, that wanted to promote its film Hillary: The Movie, critical of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, before the 2008 Democratic primaries. But the Federal Election Commission declared it “electioneering communication,” making it subject to restrictions of McCain-Feingold. These restrictions prohibit for-profit and nonprofit corporations from broadcasting speech that advocates the election or defeat of a candidate within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days before the general election.

In essence, what the court ruled was that the government could not regulate political speech, thus preserving the First Amendment’s free speech principle.

‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’
But other comments by Roberts also inspired hope that some on the court might consider overruling a past court decision, such as Roe. “This case is another example where the court overrules itself when the court realizes it made a mistake,” said Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the Pro-Life Secretariat for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “We know that Roe was a mistake and hope and pray that the court will recognize that as soon as possible.”

In his written comments endorsing the five-justice majority, Roberts rebutted Justice John Paul Stevens’ comments that the majority’s opinion was not “serious about judicial restraint.” Roberts also made clear that the court’s majority was not disrespecting the court’s past decisions in also overruling several other federal and state laws that have been on the books for more than 50 years. “This approach is based on a false premise: that our practice of avoiding unnecessary (and unnecessarily broad) constitutional holdings somehow trumps our obligation faithfully to interpret the law,” Roberts wrote. “It should go without saying, however, that we cannot embrace a narrow ground of decision simply because it is narrow; it must also be right.”

He added that stare decisis cannot be seen as “an inexorable command” because, in references to past court decisions, “if it were, segregation would be legal, minimum wage laws would be unconstitutional and the government could wiretap ordinary criminal suspects without first obtaining warrants.” Charles Rice, professor emeritus of law at Notre Dame Law School, said the basic principle at stake in truly overruling Roe is for a majority of justices to view the unborn child as a person. But that is not the case now, he added.

“Everyone is excited about Roberts’ opinion,” Rice said. “I don’t think it means anything in terms of really eliminating abortion, unless you’re talking about restoring personhood to the unborn child. And one practical reason for that is that the abortion of the future and increasingly of the present is the early abortion, which legally isn’t treated as an abortion but as contraception — what we call emergency contraception, which is really abortion.” He referred to the idea of the court one day overturning Roe as “a fool’s paradise” because the matter of abortion will then be up to each of the states to regulate. So abortion would then be still legal in those states that sanction it. In other words, what is needed is for the Supreme Court to decide if the unborn child is a person, he said.

“Don’t hold your breath waiting for that,” Rice said. But having the matter in the hands of the states — as opposed to it being the law of the land, as it is right now — is better than the situation now, said Helen Alvare, an associate professor of law at George Mason University in Arlington, Va.

“I would rather be in a situation where we at least have a chance to win in some places than a situation where we’re banned from winning,” she said, adding that better technology, such as ultrasound, and advances in genetics have made it easier for pro-lifers to make the case that the unborn child is a person.

Free to Speak

Meanwhile, abortion activists have been using Roberts’ comments to raise awareness that the court might be on the path to overturning Roe, which Alvare viewed as the pro-abortion advocates’ way of rallying the base and raising money for their cause. The Register tried unsuccessfully to get a comment from the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The group’s Nancy Northup said last week: “Yesterday’s Roberts court decision, which exhibited a stunning disregard for settled law of decades’ standing, is terrifying to those of us who care deeply about the constitutional protections the court put in place for women’s access to abortion.”

The law at the heart of the recent court case, the McCain-Feingold Act, which was passed in 2002, has been in the crosshairs of nonprofit groups such as National Right to Life, which considered the law to be unconstitutional. “It’s a tremendous victory for free speech and a victory for the pro-life movement,” said David O’Steen, executive director of National Right to Life. “All pro-life groups were affected by these prohibitions of speech, and I think it will benefit the pro-life movement, and it will benefit the American political process.” He mentioned how the National Right to Life Committee’s daily radio program, “Pro-life Perspective,” could not mention Barack Obama’s name on the air in the 60 days leading up to the 2008 presidential election since such activity was banned to nonprofit corporations as “electioneering communication” at the time under McCain-Feingold.

“We couldn’t even say, ‘Here is his position on abortion, or here is what he said about abortion,’” O’Steen said. “This frees us to speak.”

Carlos Briceño writes from Naperville, Illinois.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: abortion; lawsuit; prolife; robertscourt; roevwade; scotus
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1 posted on 01/29/2010 4:22:37 PM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...
Catholic Ping
Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list


2 posted on 01/29/2010 4:23:07 PM PST by NYer ("Where Peter is, there is the Church." - St. Ambrose of Milan)
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To: NYer

Rabid pro and con sides pretty much manage to see the possibility of overturning Roe in burnt toast and everywhere else they look.


3 posted on 01/29/2010 4:25:17 PM PST by dk88 (Keep your laws off my body)
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To: NYer

Kennedy is for the most part pro-choice with some limits. I would not expect too radical of a change from Roe.


4 posted on 01/29/2010 4:25:43 PM PST by Always Right
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To: NYer

Ruling based on precedent is a slippery slope. Do they ever actually look at the Constitution anymore?


5 posted on 01/29/2010 4:27:49 PM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: NYer

I am against abortion...unless the woman would be imminently at life and death risk( a RARE event nowadays).
That is my belief. As to rape and incest, I am not sure and yet am totally against any late term or partial birth abortions.

However,I have always considered the Roe V Wade opponents hypocritical IF....ONLY the doctor is prosecuted.

If the law said NO ONE could be legally involved in providing or having an abortion ( that includes the mother; husband/boyfriend/parents; or anyone who pays for the abortion, ...that at least would not be hypocritical.) If we believe that abortion is wrong, why would we only focus on one participant in the act?

Of course, if abortion was NOT legal and all participants and suporters would be prosecuted—not just the person performing the abortion...Roe V Wade would never be overturned.

I believe that with sonograms and educating more and more men and women on these evidences of life would do more to end abortion than any law. Laws never stopped abortions in the past, but now, the new information IS making some difference.


6 posted on 01/29/2010 4:36:11 PM PST by Recovering Ex-hippie (Ok, joke's over....Bring back Bush !)
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To: NYer

Not to worry, Sonia Sotomayor will make a wise latina decision, we can all rest assured.


7 posted on 01/29/2010 4:41:57 PM PST by exbrit
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To: NYer
“I don’t think there is anything here that gives us any signal about any imminent overruling of Roe v. Wade,” said Hadley Arkes, a professor of jurisprudence at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

The prolife Arkes knows this domain better, probably, than any other living attorney.

Roe eventually will be defeated, not because the basic premises of a magically appearing "right to privacy" or the sanctity of "the Sweet mystery of life," have been discredited, which they have, but because the court will eventually have to acknowledge the obvious fact that the unborn baby is a "person," and there fore under the protection of the 14th amendment.

8 posted on 01/29/2010 4:42:56 PM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: Recovering Ex-hippie

I agree that the “mothers” who choose killing their children are just as guilty of murder than the people they hire, and “fathers” who allow it, often encourage it and pay for it are accessories to murder.

I also agree that unpleasant as it is, the pro-life community should not shy away from making that point.

Now, leaving the moral perspective aside and taking up the legal and political perspective, it is clear why the focus is on the abortionists: they have a profit motive and are easy to shut down, whereas the “mothers” often come from a very difficult circumstance and deserve compassion.


9 posted on 01/29/2010 4:49:47 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: driftdiver
Do they ever actually look at the Constitution anymore?

Clarence Thomas does, So do Alito, Scalia and Roberts. The liberal asswipes Ruth Buzzi, the peter-rican broad and Stephen whatsisname never heard of the constitution. John Stevens used to know it existed, but now has trouble remembering to get to the bathroom before eliminating. Kennedy, who knows, Sometimes he gets it, sometimes he doesn't.

10 posted on 01/29/2010 4:52:39 PM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: hinckley buzzard

Roberts was probably the best thing Bush did.


11 posted on 01/29/2010 4:56:01 PM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Recovering Ex-hippie
Laws never stopped abortions in the past, but now, the new information IS making some difference.

Actually, laws stopped abortions very effectively up until they began to be changed in the '60s, and then were wiped out by Roe. Before then, abortions were not unheard of, obviously, any more than any other illegal act; but they were very infrequent relative to the explosion post-Roe.

12 posted on 01/29/2010 4:57:17 PM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: hinckley buzzard
Actually, laws stopped abortions very effectively up until they began to be changed in the '60s

Not particularly. As I understand it, you could find a practitioner fairly easily. That didn't make it moral, but it was readily available through the right channels.

13 posted on 01/29/2010 5:10:28 PM PST by Desdemona (These are the times that try men's souls. - Remember Christmas 1776)
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To: Recovering Ex-hippie
I believe that with sonograms and educating more and more men and women on these evidences of life would do more to end abortion than any law. Laws never stopped abortions in the past, but now, the new information IS making some difference.

Very true. I also think the number of women who have had the procedure who have "switched sides" and are now speaking out is a good sign. Some of the stories are just heartbreaking.

14 posted on 01/29/2010 5:13:11 PM PST by Desdemona (These are the times that try men's souls. - Remember Christmas 1776)
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To: Recovering Ex-hippie

I agree that the “mothers” who choose killing their children are just as guilty of murder than the people they hire, and “fathers” who allow it, often encourage it and pay for it are accessories to murder.

I also agree that unpleasant as it is, the pro-life community should not shy away from making that point.

Now, leaving the moral perspective aside and taking up the legal and political perspective, it is clear why the focus is on the abortionists: they have a profit motive and are easy to shut down, whereas the “mothers” often come from a very difficult circumstance and deserve compassion.


15 posted on 01/29/2010 5:15:29 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

Good post. thanks for your articulate reply.


16 posted on 01/29/2010 5:28:52 PM PST by Recovering Ex-hippie (Ok, joke's over....Bring back Bush !)
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To: hinckley buzzard

I will check the statistics on that..but since most of the abortions were underground it would be difficult to compare.


17 posted on 01/29/2010 5:30:18 PM PST by Recovering Ex-hippie (Ok, joke's over....Bring back Bush !)
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To: Desdemona

Excellant point. Mothers hearing from other mothers..that is helpful.


18 posted on 01/29/2010 5:31:11 PM PST by Recovering Ex-hippie (Ok, joke's over....Bring back Bush !)
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To: hinckley buzzard

I went to the statistics. ( whoa, did this take time! ha)I used the CDC stats.

I picked out the years to reflect the general trend.....

In 1973..(Roe V Wade enacted) rate 615,831
In 1976,... 988,267
In 1977,... 1,079,430
In 1990,... 1,429,577
In 1993,... 1,330,414
In 1997,... 1,186,039
In 1998,... 884,273
In 2001,... 853,485

I was rather surprised. It appears that the number of abortion are decreasing. Of course any rates before 1973 would not be all that accurate because abortions were illegal.

I would like to know WHY the decrease? It does not seem to be correlated with Roe V Wade. I would think it may have to do with either population and the ages of women. Or more hopefully the impact that scientific information on pregnancy/conception and the increasing discussion of the pro-life movement is having an impact. We may want to find out why the decrease to put our efforts into the areas that impact people the most.


19 posted on 01/29/2010 6:00:34 PM PST by Recovering Ex-hippie (Ok, joke's over....Bring back Bush !)
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To: annalex
Now, leaving the moral perspective aside and taking up the legal and political perspective, it is clear why the focus is on the abortionists: they have a profit motive and are easy to shut down, whereas the “mothers” often come from a very difficult circumstance and deserve compassion.

The reason doctors should hang for abortion, is because most mothers do not, in fact, want abortion. They are in an anxiety laden dilemma that might infringe on their future (college), their health (they may be quite ill with no one to help them), their lack of financial wealth (we need places where women can go for their pregnancies -- paid for by the government -- up until they deliver if necessary), they may be threatened (hubbies/boyfriends say get the abortion, or I'll leave), they may not even know the father (sad situation for a sexually promiscuous woman; she needs help).

Abortion is offered as a quicky way to eliminate their "problem," and they jump at the chance to just get it over with, when in fact that nine month period is absolutely NOTHING, I repeat, *nothing*, compared to a lifetime of regret. Been there, done that. If you know anyone considering abortion, try your hardest to stop them. If one has already ended a life through abortion, they can be forgiven. In fact, it's imperative that they eventually seek that out and move on to help others.
20 posted on 01/29/2010 6:37:40 PM PST by mlizzy ("Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person" --Mother Teresa.)
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