The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday on a hearing held June 23 in the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution re: the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade. That these questions are being openly asked and debated in the US Senate is profound….
… [US Senator Sam] Brownback [R-KS] summoned a panel of legal experts – two abortion opponents, two advocates of abortion rights – to discuss his contention that legal scholars are beginning to coalesce around a consensus that the legal underpinning of the Roe vs. Wade decision, the constitutional right to privacy, was flawed.
In the view of conservatives, the Roe decision not only legalized abortion but also infected much of the federal court system with judicial activism.
“Roe is the Dred Scott of our age,” said Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington think tank, referring to the Supreme Court decision that upheld slavery and was later discredited. “Like few other Supreme Court cases in our nation’s history, Roe is not merely patently wrong but also fundamentally hostile to core precepts of American government.”
Arguing that the court had overstepped its bounds and engaged in judicial legislating, Whelan called the case “a lawless power grab by the Supreme Court, an unconstitutional act of aggression.”
Judicial activism is likely to be one of the themes of the Senate’s consideration of any Supreme Court nomination, and Brownback asked witnesses what they thought would happen if Roe vs. Wade were overturned and the states regulated abortion.
Karen O’Connor, a lawyer and professor of government at American University, expressed concern about the impact on women’s health if abortion returned “to the back alleys” and about what kinds of limits states might impose.
Brownback asked the legal experts to address the issue of when life began, in part to explore the possibility that states could outlaw abortion on grounds that it constituted the taking of a life….