I title this column "For prolifers only" because, rather than trying to persuade the general public about the enormity and evils of abortion, I wish to address it to those who don't need convincing.
"The supreme court has made their decision, now let them try to enforce it!"
So said President Andrew Jackson in the Worcester v. Georgia case, at a time when politicians and Americans in general had a better constitutional understanding of things than they do now.
Jackson knew very well that the president has all the powers of enforcement, and that there is absolutely nothing written in the Constitution that requires him to obey a supreme court opinion. Yet this was Ronald Reagan's misunderstanding as well as every other "prolife" candidate for president since 1973, with the exception of Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul.
The prolife movement has been sold a fake antidote to Roe v. Wade for 35 years, and I expect I'll be spending the rest of my life trying to convince fellow prolifers to chuck out the idea that we need a Constitutional Amendment to protect unborn human life. It's a bad idea for several reasons.
First, it permits elected officials to abdicate responsibility. They can talk a good game, but they do nothing or next to nothing. They want prolifers' votes, and string along some distant hope of a better day.
Secondly, it's bad Constitutional understanding. Jackson knew this as president, but, better yet, there's even something Congress can do. In Article III, Section 2, Congress can define the court's scope of reach. The supreme court enjoys appellate ("on appeal") jurisdiction "with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make." This means that a prolife Congress could pass a statute removing the court's jurisdiction on human life cases. Bet you didn't know that. And I'll bet your friendly, neighborhood congressman or senator didn't want you to know it, either.
Thirdly, passing constitutional amendments is a lengthy, trying and usually impossible proposition. Know anyone in favor of child labor? Neither do I, but Congress and the states failed every time they tried to pass an amendment. Instead, they let the states define and enforce it. Good move, too, or otherwise commercial fishing and farming families might be breaking some weird interpretation of the courts.
Fourthly, passing a constitutional amendment is admitting that the supreme court indeed has the right to sweep away state laws. This is a dangerous admission, for the courts have absolutely no such right. Check out Article III and tell me where it says "The supreme court shall have the right to review and declare the laws of the states unconstitutional." You won't find it, but the court usurped such a power with its landmark Marbury v. Madison case, way, way back in 1803.
Fifth, Prohibition didn't work on the federal, but it is quite manageable on the state level. Before 1973, that is exactly how unborn human life was protected. Like all murder, simply having laws on the books will not stop all of it. What the law seeks always to do is create protection of the innocent by not making the risks of killing them worth it, at least for most people.
Lastly, what good is a Constitutional amendment, anyway? The court virtually ignores the 10th amendment, convolutes the 1st regarding religion, allows federal gun control in the face of the 2nd, and permits the IRS to violate the 4th. Why should prolifers expect them to respect any human life amendment?
Prolifers, start making some real political headway. Ask your prolife governor to encourage the state to protect unborn human life, and dare the federal courts to strike it down. Ask Don Young, whose voting record is 100 percent prolife, to get around to reading the Constitution one of these days. And don't you ever, ever permit any prolife presidential candidate to repeat Ronald Reagan's famous statement, made in inexcusable ignorance: "Well, my oath of office requires me to enforce all supreme court decisions, even those I don't agree with."
Robert Bird, who lives in Nikiski, is a board member and past president of Alaska Right to Life.
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