Archive for the ‘US Supreme Court’ category

Obama’s no.1 priority

April 15, 2008

Guess what the first thing Barack Obama wants to do as US President? Pull US troops out of Iraq? No. Help end the economic crisis that the US is suffering at the moment? good guess, but no. Something to do with helping American families out of poverty? No.

The correct answer: Sign into law a bill, to give mothers the right to kill their innocent unborn children (through abortion).

Abortion was first legalised throughout the United States in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case(several states, including California and New York had passed their own laws legalising abortion before Roe), when some liberal activist judges in the Supreme Court found abortion to be a fundamental right under the US constitution, and legalised abortion up to birth (and during birth with partial birth-abortions), striking down all state laws restricting abortion as unconstitutional. Since that time, the membership of the Supreme Court has changed to include more conservative judges, and the Roe verdict has become diluted, with the court now allowing some restrictions, such as parental notification laws, waiting periods, infromed consent laws, and more recently a ban on partial-birth abortion. Some “pro-choice” advocates have began to worry (with some justification) that Roe might be overturned, and thus each state will be able to choose their own abortion laws, and that some conservative states will pass very restrictive abortion laws.

In order to prevent this happening, the pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America are lobbying for Congress to pass a Freedom of Choice Act to codify the Roe verdict into legislation. I have long seen this as a pipe dream, as in order for it to become law, it wil need to pass both houses of congress, including stopping a filibuster in the Senate (and this will require 60 Senators) and a pro-abortion President willing to sign the Bill into law, all at the same time. However, the electoral math facing the Republicans this election is awful, with the Republicans having to defend 23 Senate seats this election (against only 12 for the Democrats), including 5 when the incumbent is retiring, and the Republican Party is in very bad shape in the polls at the moment, thanks to the war in Iraq and the recent economic downturn. And this makes it very likely that the Democrats (who are overwhelmingly “pro-choice”) will not only retain their majority in the House, but significently increase their majority in the Senate as well. And a filibuster proof Democratic majority in the Senate is no longer a pipe-dream, but a serious possibility (although it will still be difficult to achieve). If this occurs, then the Freedom of Choice Bill might actually get to the desk of the next President, and if the next President is Barack Obama, it will become law. This means that in order to overturn Roe v. Wade, conservatives will not only have to stack the Supreme Court, but have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and majority in the House and pro-life President, all willing to vote for a Bill to explicitly remove legal protection for abortion, at the same time. In other words, passage of this Bill will be a massive obstacle to overturning Roe.

But that is not all the Bill will do. It would also re-legalise partial-birth abortion, and remove all the waiting period, parental notification, and informed consent laws in place today. As well as mandating taxpayer funding of abortions. In other words it will effectively reverse everything the pro-life movement has gained over the last thirty years.

If this sounds despairing to you, there is still some good news. Barack Obabma is not President yet, and we might have John McCain as President instead. And McCain has a very solid conservative record on abortion, including publicly stating the Roe “should be overturned” and as President he wants to turn America into “a nation of traditional values that protects the rights of the unbron” (which is the main reason I want him to be President). And at the moment the balance on the Supreme Court is very close, with the new Bush apointees John Roberts and Samuel Alito (both of whom have conservative records on abortion, although it is unclear if they will go as far as overturning Roe) joining the very conservative judges Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to make up a conservative block of 4 judges, and these judges along with conservative leaning swing judge Anthony Kennedy (although he doesn’t go as far as wanting to overturn Roe) has enabled the Supreme Court to support the partial birth abortion ban, as well as several other conservative rulings. And amongst the liberal block of judges two are even older than John McCain (namely John Paul Stevens whose turning 88 this week, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 75), and it is a safe bet that in the next 8 years at least one, if not both wil die or retire. And if McCain is President, the replacement judge he appoints could be the 5th judge needed to overturn Roe, and what a glorious day that will be. Even if Roe isn’t overturned, the Supreme Court could become a lot more conservative. However, McCain will still need to get his judges past a Senate, which will have a Democratic majority, at least until 2012.

In short this US election could have a big impact on the future of abortion in the United States.