40 Years of Bench Law

The 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, like several others before, marks an annual clash between those who support abortions and those who do not.  Issues of life are very important, and the abortion issue very literally is a matter of life and death – the whole debate should center on the origin point of life and what rights are extended to whom and when.  In moments of calm, good people on both sides should be able to rationally debate those points.  (Those moments of calm tend to be fleeting.)

Here’s another point, separate from the abortion debate: from a legal perspective, the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade is a really bad decision.

A couple years back, the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney memorialized the Roe anniversary with a litany of quotes from pro-choice legal scholars who recognized Justice’s Blackmun’s opinion as, in the words of Michael Kinsley, “constitutional origami… a muddle of bad reasoning and an authentic example of judicial overreaching.”

Read the opinion, and really think about it.  Blackmun – not a doctor, by the way – reasons that dividing pregnancy into trimesters is the best way to handle the issue of conflicting rights.  One man wrote that opinion, even if he fielded input from others, and that opinion is now the legal definition of when life starts.

Let’s just think about that idea of a judge, sitting in his office in Washington, D.C., deciding that whatever is in his head will be the law of the land.  The absolutism of it recalls that Twilight Zone episode where “The State” deems Rocky’s trainer obsolete (and sentences him to death) for being a librarian.

It’s not the only example of an absolutely ridiculous Supreme Court decision, but it’s the only one whose anniversary is marked every year.

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