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Pro-abortion U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke last week at Harvard Law School and was inevitably asked a question about abortion:

I took Professor Klarman’s constitutional law class last semester. We talked a lot about backlash created by judicial decisions, especially in abortion, and the death penalty, and gay rights. And I was just curious whether you think that he was accurate, that court decisions can create large backlash and whether other movements should be wary of creating that through the court system.

Her response:

I don’t think that the anti-abortion movement – that it was just Roe v. Wade. That movement existed before Roe v. Wade. It existed after. I do think that the way the Court went about reaching its decision did give them a target that they could aim at that they didn’t have before. But the court decision is hardly what created the movement.

I should say that – because I’ve been criticized for – ‘She’s against Roe v Wade.’ No, I’m not. I’m very much for the judgment that the Court rendered, dealing with what was the most extreme law in the country, where a woman could get an abortion only if it was necessary to save her life . Could be disastrous for her health and it wouldn’t matter.

The Court easily could have said, “We’ll deal with the Texas law. That’s what’s before us. We’ll declare that unconstitutional, because it’s much too far out in disregarding the situation of the woman. But we then put our pen down, and we wait for the next case,” which is how the Court usually operates.

This was an unusual judicial decision because it made every law in the country, even the most, quote, liberal, unconstitutional in one fell swoop. And that’s not the way the Court ordinarily operates.

So that was my critique – not of the judgement but of the giant step that the court took instead of proceeding by slow degrees.

Justice Ginsburg believes the Roe decision gave pro-lifers a “target” to collectively aim at, rather than incohesively and much less powerfully sperading our energies among the states.

Reading between the lines, Ginsburg believes there would be much less rancor about abortion had it slowly been eased into the public consciousness.

This buttresses my thought that walking abortion back incrementally – as we are forced to do at present whether we like it or not – is a winning strategy.

Harvard Gazette quoted another interesting thought from Ginsburg, the last sentence in particular.

Ginsburg also took issue with the notion that the court should be responsible for fixing society’s ills.

“It’s rare that a court will move unless the people want them to. … Before every major change, it was people who saw that the laws were wrong, wanted them to change, were fighting to capture other people’s minds, and then trying to get legislative change,” that pushed issues along. “Then the court is the last resort. … It has to be the people who want the change, and without them no change will be lasting.”

In the case of Roe, people weren’t asking for the change. Only liberals were. They thought the change would cement legalized abortion. But it hasn’t. As Ginsburg said, “It has to be the people who want the change, and without them no change will be lasting.”

That’s what we are seeing with the growing opposition to legalized abortion.

Finally, liberal schizophrenia never fails to puzzle me. Again from the Harvard Gazette:

She recalled the first time she voted in a death penalty case and how she stayed awake until after the execution into early hours of the morning, crying.

See video of Ginsburg’s abortion comments at


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[Photo via the Harvard Gazette]

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