As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement last week, one vivid possibility flashed across the minds of pro-lifers throughout the country: the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, certain GOP members of Congress are not supportive of this possibility, most notably Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Collins believes that Roe v. Wade is settled law. “I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v Wade,” she remarked on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
She additionally commented on ABC‘s “This Week”:
A candidate for this important position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have…And that would indicate to me a failure to respect precedent, a fundamental tenet of our judicial system.
Is Collins right in arguing that the precedent of Roe v. Wade should be left alone as settled? I would argue no.
The constitutionality of Roe v. Wade has always been questionable. After all, the ruling itself is based on the right to privacy outlined in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In supporting the upholding of Roe v. Wade, Sen. Collins is implying that she finds the ruling and its argument based in the 14th Amendment to be constitutional.
However, the 14th Amendment, Section 1 states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United 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.
Various court rulings have affirmed that a right to privacy is established under the due process clause within the 14th Amendment. The majority opinion for Roe v. Wade argued, in short, that under this right to privacy, the right to privacy about one’s pregnancy and the right to abort such a pregnancy ought to be included.
Yet, this is in stark contradiction to the ban on laws that deprive a citizen of the United States the right to life, liberty, and property only a few words earlier. The first sentence of the 14th Amendment considers all people born into the United States as citizens. Should this not also include the pre-born citizens?
It does not take much reasoning to determine that the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade is shaky at best. There are various other areas of legality that can additionally be picked apart.
So, my question for Senator Collins would be this: Should we consider all court decisions as settled even if found unconstitutional, immoral, or in violation of other laws? The fight over Roe v. Wade is far from finished, and to pretend we should simply leave the ruling be and not discuss it is foolish at best.
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