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.
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.
I have often asked pro-aborts if they would kindly quote the text of the Constitution which guarantees the "right" to abortion. I have never had any takers.
America has become the Moloch of the world.
Just wanted to see that again. :-)
I reread my post 51 (to which you replied). I did no such thing.
Bovine excrement. The document means the same thing it always has. That you don't like it has absolutely no bearing on its meaning.
Wish in one hand, crap in the other and see which one fills up first.
Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. This sounds cliche, but with God, everything is possible. I firmly believe that prayer and action will reduce abortions. We may not see an end in sight ... you are right, even our churches are increasingly silent on abortion.
This doesn't mean that we don't continue the fight. We need to preserve the pro-life cause within our churches, educate the laity to be pro-life, encourage activism; elect pro-life leaders in order to help advance our goals legislatively, but know all the while that legislation alone, the court alone, will not stop abortion.
This isn't a battle to be one on one front. It is a multi-phased battle: the courts, legislation, the hearts and minds of the American people, the churches, everywhere.
But with the grace of God, we can succeed.
Aren't you clever. Wish in one hand, defecate in the other, see which one fills up first. Happy?
You, quite evidently, are not since one "thought" appears to be your limit.
"Every time you're selecting a Supreme Court justice, you're conducting a mini-plebiscite on what the Constitution ought to mean,"
That's Justice Scalia. Since Supreme Court Justices are political appointees I interpret that to mean;
"Every time a political appointment is made the meaning of the document changes."
You call that "bovine excrement". So tell us what you think (dare I use that word when referring to your mental processes?) Scalia meant.
it's always been political-- and it's a good thing we don't elect these judges directly, or X42 could already be sitting up there with Hilly.
It seems to me human beings have never agreed about anything. The 5000 year history of jurisprudence, morality, rhetoric, economics, and social philosophy are an attempt to construct a society around that fact.
I would have thought the many religious wars fought over the "proper" interpretation of the Bible would have taught everyone that there is no "proper" interpretation. But no.
For me Islamic fundamentalists, who are nothing if not moral and religious absolutists, are primitive savages with a medievil view of the world. For you, it seems, their sin is believing in the wrong God.
If a man died of a heart attack immediately having sex with his second wife, and a child was conceived as a result of that act, I would expect that child would be regarded legally as the man's heir. If this is so, the argument you cite would be moot since the legal person who would become the heir might not exist in any meaningful sense at the time of the man's death.
The Buffalo News is owned by Warren Buffett, a population-control freak.
Scalia's statement is not the same as yours. Scalia would be quick to tell you that the meaning of the Constitution doesn't change no matter how much people like you pretend it does.
His point, which you blithely ignore, is that people are constantly pretending the Constitution means whatever they want it to, and the political appointment of justices reflects that.
Writing in a right to abortion and taking out a right to bear arms outside of the ammendment process is judicial lunacy. The document stands, and any justice who ignores that meaning is first and foremost a liar.
Of course, that is a common liberal failing.
It was a question, not an arguement
Moral relativism should have a bad name. It's a poisonous bankrupt illogical and dangerous ethic. It denies truth. If every person in the U.S. became a moral relativists, then they would ALL be wrong.
If you would like to defend your ethical system of moral relativism, I will be happy to blow it to pieces for you with simple logic.
The political appointment of justices of the Supreme Court is built into the Constitution. Why? Were the founders so stupid that they couldn't see the consequences?
"People like me" are citizens of the United States and always have been. Thus we're voters and participate in the selection of Justices of the Supreme Court. Were the founders so stupid they couldn't see the consequences?
If "people like me" aren't fit to decide the "true" meaning of the Constitution then who is? Only people like you?
Moreover, the other two didn't even suggest a remedy and it was clear that in the short time remaining, nothing else would be done that would pass court muster anyway.
So that the process would not be as political as an election. Sorry, the process is specifically designed to remove as much politics as possible. How else would they get to the bench? The hand of God?
Where do I denounce moral relativism?
Perhaps I was unclear. I thought I said it was dangerous and that Political Correctniks have given it a bad name in modern times. I also thought I said that it was moral abolutism that was truly dangerous. That's why I referred to Muslims fundamentalists and religious wars.
For me, and many who think like I do, morality is like all other human attempts to understand the world and structure a decent society - an attempt which constantly requires adjustment in response the new experience and new understanding. That not the same thing as saying that all moral systems are equivalent - the error Political Correctiks make and the reason I despise them.
Perhaps the confusion comes because Political Correctiks have appropriated the term Moral Relativism in the same way they've appropriated the term Liberalism. I am more properly a believer in moral uncertainty rather than relativism. It's dangerous because it is uncertain and thus open to misinterpretation. It's dangerous because people crave certainty.
Well, let them crave it. The reality is we live in an uncertain world.
It is, in fact, the government which is prohibited from meddling where it has no stated authority...
Too many folks fail to realize these simple truths.
In the first paragraph of the article. Bias coming through as usual at the Buffalo Snews. "flies against" is close to the "flies in the face of" to be no coincidence.
But, then again, this is news and you and I are talking facts.
Facts haven't had anything to do with news since at least 1990, probably long before.
Ah, the old "interpretation" gambit. Useful whenever you seek to evade the law.
The Constitution is written in clear and concise English. No interpretation needed, unless you are illiterate.
The true meaning of the Constitution is not some dark mystery requiring revelation by liberal witch doctors. The purpose of the liberal witch doctors is to conceal and obfuscate the clear meaning of the Constitution.
"...as possible", you say. Don't you think the founders realized this? Don't you think the founders were aware of human limitations? They were children of the 18th century. Deists for the most part. Familiar in a way that we are not (pre 9/11) with the consequences of religious absolutism. They were trying to build a stable political system - not one immune from change. They would've been the last to claim "absolute" wisdom.
They realized - as any literate person does - that all law is open to interpretation. That differing views can often never be reconciled. That's why we have a Supreme Court. To make a final decision in real time so that action can be taken in real time. In Marbury vs. Madison the Court decided it was the final arbiter of the meaning of the Contitution - above Congress (but not above the people who could amend) - and that interpretation was approved by the founders and has stood the test of time.
OK, that puts the "non" in non-sequitor. Where the hell did that come from? Never mind, I don't want to know.
They were trying to build a stable political system
BZZZT. They could have done that with Emperor George Washington. Try again.
They realized - as any literate person does - that all law is open to interpretation.
Actually, they often appealed to "reason". But in the age of moral relativism, that has now become malleable.
In Marbury vs. Madison the Court decided it was the final arbiter of the meaning of the Contitution
No . . . actually what happened is that the Court decided that it could use the Constitution to determine the outcome of lawsuits and set precidents. It has the same effect as it means that unconstitutional laws will not be enforced.