Skip to comments.Scalia sees no abortion right in Constitution
Posted on 03/14/2002 5:50:19 AM PST by wwcc
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, during a luncheon in Buffalo on Wednesday, re-emphasized his view that women don't have a constitutional right to an abortion. His belief flies against the court's majority decision in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which found a constitutionally protected right of privacy that covers abortion.
"My votes in abortion cases have nothing to do with my pro-life views," Scalia said after his speech at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. "They have to do with the text of the Constitution. And there is nothing, nothing in the Constitution that guarantees the right to an abortion."
At times flashing a prickly wit, Scalia also criticized the process for selecting new Supreme Court justices as being highly political today.
And he defended the court's 5-4 decision in the 2000 presidential election that stopped ballot counting in Florida and handed victory to George W. Bush.
The recurring theme throughout Scalia's 40-minute speech, and in answers to audience questions, was the importance of a strict, limited interpretation of the Constitution.
"It says what it says, and it ought not to be twisted," he said.
Scalia, who is the foremost conservative member of the Supreme Court, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. .
Scalia devoted the bulk of his speech to the clauses in the First Amendment that ensure government may not restrict people's religious practices, nor impose religion on anyone.
Judicial rulings on those clauses - and the entire Constitution - must be based on their text, the authors' original intent or historical practice, he said.
In quoting George Bernard Shaw - using a phrase later appropriated by Robert F. Kennedy - Scalia said those who believe in judicial reshaping of the Constitution "dream things that never were."
The appropriate way to deal with an issue that demands updating judicial precedent or the Constitution is by legislative action or, where appropriate, a constitutional amendment.
"We have an enduring Constitution, not a living one," Scalia said.
After his prepared remarks, Scalia took questions and delved into several hot-button issues.
He dismissed the idea that abortion is a constitutionally protected right, but he also said the Constitution doesn't explicitly prohibit abortions, either. He indicated the issue ultimately should be decided by a constitutional amendment.
The fight over abortion rights already is heating up, as pro-choice groups dig in for a battle whenever Bush gets to make a Supreme Court appointment.
Picking up that theme, Scalia blamed the the bitter political fights over court nominations on the belief that judges are free to rethink the Constitution.
"Every time you're selecting a Supreme Court justice, you're conducting a mini-plebiscite on what the Constitution ought to mean," he said.
Scalia defended the court's decision in the 2000 balloting debacle, saying it properly returned authority in the matter to the Florida Legislature.
Organizers said 930 tickets were sold for the event, sponsored by the Chabad House of Western New York and the University at Buffalo Law School.
Wrong question. The Constitution prohibits the government, whether federal (5th Amendment) or state (14th Amendment) from depriving a "person" of life (or property) without due process. But a murder (or theft) committed by a private person against another private person does not violate the constitution; murder is only a state-law crime. Many states permit killings (as self-defense) which would be murder in other states (see, for example, the wide differences among states as to whether or not you can legally kill an unarmed thief).
Thanks, just playing off the fact that it was the Burger Court that decided Roe. I actually knew Griswold was the Genesis of this line of "reasoning", but didn't know Douglas started it...learn something new every day.
Did Burger actually vote "no" on Roe? If so, I guess I deserve 20 lashes with a cat o' nine penumbras...
Grrrrrr...it was the 7-2 decision that branded what the Floriduh Supremes were doing as unconstitutional that sealed Gore's fate, not the 5-4 ruling stopping the selective hand counts.
You really think so? I think we will wallow along a wandering line between the extremes...though the thought that a potential finality would occur...one way or the other is comforting...I grow weary of the debates at times.
If a women is a joint benificiary with her unborn child to an estate, would aborting the child be murder for financial gain...
I don't think abortion will end overnight. This is a fight we've been waging not only since 1973. It's a fight that has been waged for 3,000 years. But, our goal ... the goal of every pro-lifer ... is to save the life of every baby we can save, pray for those we can't save, and work to change the hearts and minds of the American people. Through federal or state laws, the Constitution, the media, crisis pregnancy centers ... from telling the truth with love and honesty, we can reduce abortions. We can never let up. There will always be women who can kill their babies; there will always be men and women who will help them do it. Let's make it rare, let's make it a crime.
God bless everyone who works to end abortion, because reducing abortions saves lives.
I would argue the Sixth (although the Sixth only says "speedy and public", not "fair").
I wasn't meaning to take the thread even slightly off topic (I have too much work to do) - just pointing out other explicit language that is nowhere to be found in the Constitution
Not the powers that be but the people alive at the time - at least in a country with a democratic form of government.
Currently, it's the Political Correctniks who've given moral relativism a bad name. But 125 years ago it was Republicans who championed the cause with Oliver Wendall Holmes in the forefront.
Moral relativism is a frightening thing. It seems dangerously close to nihilism or hedonism or amorality. Well, It's a frightening, confusing, and mysterious world we live in. Always has been. Best to face it honestly, with your eyes wide open. Or at least that's how I chose to live my life.
Wallow? I don't think we're wallowing. As always there are great minds to meet, endless mysteries to explore. If only we have the courage and energy to do so. And as always the kind of world we live in is ours to chose - to a large extent. Try reading Teddy Roosevelt.
Roe vs. Wade was re-argued for the benefit of the new justices Powell and Rehnquist. It was reasonable to believe that both of the new judges would be against abortion in Roe vs. Wade. Justice Byron White always voted against social revolution such as abortion.
Burger was pro-life as he reveailed in his final vote on the subject before leaving SCOTUS, saying he had long believed that Roe vs. Wade had been wrongly decided. Burger would have been the fourth justice against Roe vs. Wade. He needed one more vote and naturally turned to Herod Blackmun whose views were not yet know even by Burger to be as firmly pro-death as clearly they were later revealed to be. Burger and Blackmun had served as Best Man at each other's weddings. Burger and his wife spent the entire summer with Blackmun and his wife at a lakeside cottege trying to persuade Blackmun and wife that Blackmun should join a pro-life majority.
The decision of Blackmun in the case is a stew of irrationality and historical fantasy and ought to be read by each and every person who cares about this issue on either side. That leaves the question of whether Burger had been converted by Blackmun.
The Chief Justice is not just another vote on SCOTUS nor is he merely first in prestige. The Chief Justice has certain responsibilities to govern the flow of business there. The Chief Justice has many unique powers. Among these is the power to assign the writing of a decision of the majority of SCOTUS to whichever member of the court's majority he chooses. If the Chief Justice is in the minority, then his power in that respect devolves to the senior associate justice in the majority which would have been William O. Douglas.
Blackmun. Harvard law degree or not, was as much of a professional mediocrity as he was a moral embarassment. Powell turned out to be a prudish old fart who generally did not want to think much about cases involving sexuality and did not want to be seen as advancing moral agendas. William O. Douglas was certainly an evil justice but also an evil genius as any reader of his remarkably creative reasoning in Griswold knows.
If we think that the situation of the ongoing American holocaust of the unborn is bad under Blackmun's pathetic decision, flawed in every imaginable respect, pro-lifers ought to thank God that Burger was willing to be a magnificent hypocrite in voting against his conscience in the hope that he could someday fashion a pro-life majority against Blackmun's inferior decision. If the decision had been assigned BY William O. Douglas, it would have been assigned TO William O. Douglas and he probably would have crafted an invincible decision with the help of his old pals like Professor Thomas Emerson of the Yale University School of Law who had been the driving force behind Griswold.
Clearly this man is insane. /sarcasm>
We would not be in the mess we are in today, if the Supreme Court would have only turned it back to the states to decide for themselves.
In fact, I would say most of the problems and conflicts we have today is because the Supreme Court has jumped into matters better left to the states.
If that means we would have 50 different policies on a thousand different issues, so what!
Let the people of that state decide what is best for them, then it would not matter all that much who was on the Supreme Court.
If the unborn are considered persons then states can not decide to make it legal to kill them, period. Humans are undeniably persons. If you believe that, then it is an issue of unalienable rights and the federal government is bound to protect them.
Well, it is true that the Constitution doesn't explicitly use the word 'abortion', but I would have to say that to allow the butchery of preborn children is to deny them the equal protection of the law. The Fourteenth Amendment states, "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
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