Politicians and members of the Judicial System have been trying to rewrite, reinterpret or simply ignore the United States Constitution for many, many years and they’ve had some success. The landmark decision in Roe v. Wade is probably the best well known example of rewriting/reinterpreting our constitution and is still a very volatile topic to this day. The Fifth Amendment (that guaranties other rights) also declares, “…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In 1973 the Supreme Court decided (Roe V. Wade), “That a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. The POTUS played the Fifth Amendment against the Fourteenth Amendment and reinterpreted our Constitution and abortion was legalized. Some may be surprised the final vote in favor of Roe was 7-2, with five Republican-appointed Justices and two Democratic-appointed Justices in step. So who were these Supreme Court Justices that played one Amendment against another that reinterpreted our constitution to justify abortion?
Chief Justice Warren Burger was appointed by President Nixon and Burgher was a staunch Republican supporter. Burgher was a strong critic of the liberal Chief Justice Earl Warren (Eisenhower would later remark that appointing Warren was the biggest mistake of his presidency), and was viewed as a strict, constructionist Justice. Burgher’s views on the death penalty were quite conservative and were on display in his dissent from Furman v. Georgia, which sought to invalidate capital punishment. He voted to reinstate the death penalty in 1976 with Gregg v. Georgia. Into the 1980′s Burgher remained conservative on his views of gay rights, upholding the criminalization of sodomy, and on his views of crime and punishment, dissenting in the case of Solem v. Helm. Apart from his support for Roe, Burgher’s tenure as Chief Justice was remarkably uncontroversial and moderately conservative. Burgher voted in favor of Roe to legalize abortion.
Justice Harry Blackmun was appointed by President Nixon and Burgher was a staunch Republican supporter. Prior to his Supreme Court appointment, Blackmun was a strong Republican, and he generally was viewed as a conservative by his peers. During and in the wake of Roe v. Wade, Blackmun had a track record of conservative positions. It was not until a decade after Roe that Blackmun began to align himself with more liberal policies, and in the mid-1990′s he changed his mind on the death penalty. Blackmun wrote the Majority opinion for Roe v. Wade and voted in favor of Roe to legalize abortion.
Justice William Brennan was appointed by President Eisenhower. Brennan was a Democrat placed on the Court in order to help with Eisenhower’s reelection bid in 1956. Brennan was a known liberal since his time on the Warren Court. Brennan voted in favor of Roe to legalize abortion.
Justice Potter Stewart was appointed by President Eisenhower. Stewart grew up in a Republican home (his father was the conservative mayor of Cincinnati and a justice on the Ohio Supreme Court). He was known as a moderate and a dissenter within the more liberal Warren Court, arguing that its interpretation of First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights extended beyond the intentions of their framers. Stewart’s voting record remained moderate throughout his tenure on the Court, though he dissented far more in the liberal Warren Court than in the centrist Burgher Court. Stewart voted in favor of Roe to legalize abortion.
Justice Lewis Powell was appointed by President Nixon. Powell had a solid reputation as a moderate Justice, often seeking consensus and supplying the “swing vote.” In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978, he was alone in providing a compromise opinion that some affirmative action policies should be struck out and that there were others that could be constitutional. In Bowers v. Hardwick, Powell was the “swing vote” that upheld Georgia’s anti-sodomy laws. Powell voted in favor of Roe to legalize abortion.
Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson. Marshall was an unrepentant liberal whose commitment to equality only expanded during his years of service. He remained true to the values of freedom and equality despite the erosion of the liberal majority that he helped sustain when he was first appointed. Marshall voted in favor of Roe to legalize abortion.
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was appointed by President Roosevelt. In 1975, a TIME article called Douglas “the most doctrinaire and committed civil libertarian ever to sit on the court.” In general, legal scholars have noted that Douglas’s judicial style was unusual in that he did not attempt elaborate justifications for his judicial positions on the basis of text, history, or precedent. Instead, Douglas was known for writing short, pithy opinions which relied on philosophical insights, observations about current politics, and literature, as much as more conventional “judicial” sources. Ultimately, he believed that a judge’s role was “not neutral.” “The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people….” Douglas voted in favor of Roe to legalize abortion.
Supreme Court Justice Byron White was appointed by President Kennedy. White often took a narrow, fact-specific view of cases before the Court and generally refused to make broad pronouncements on constitutional doctrine or adhere to a specific judicial philosophy. He preferred to take what he viewed as a practical approach to the law to one based in any legal philosophy. He was seen as a disappointment by some Kennedy supporters who wished he would have joined the more liberal wing of the court in its opinions on Miranda v. Arizona and Roe v. Wade. White dissented on Roe v. Wade.
Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist was appointed by President Nixon. Within a year, he had distinguished himself as a conservative, and solidified that role when he offered one of only two dissenting opinions in the controversial 1973 abortion-rights case, Roe v. Wade. A federalist, Rehnquist was a strong supporter of state’s rights (as outlined in the Constitution), practiced judicial restraint, and consistently sided with conservatives on the issues of religious expression, free speech and the limits of federal powers. Rehnquist dissented on Roe v. Wade.
The Hyde Amendment
After Roe v. Wade decriminalized abortion in 1973, Medicaid covered abortion care without restriction. In 1976, Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL) introduced an amendment that later passed to limit federal funding for abortion care. Effective in 1977, this provision, known as the Hyde Amendment, specifies what abortion services are covered under Medicaid.
Over the past two decades, Congress has debated the limited circumstances under which federal funding for abortion should be allowed. For a brief period of time, coverage included cases of rape, incest, life endangerment, and physical health damage to the woman. However, beginning in 1979, the physical health exception was excluded, and in 1981 rape and incest exceptions were also excluded. In September 1993, Congress rewrote the provision to include Medicaid funding for abortions in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. The present version of the Hyde Amendment requires coverage of abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.
The Hyde Amendment affects only federal spending. States are free to use their own funds to cover additional abortion services. For example, Hawaii, New York, and Washington have enacted laws funding abortions for health reasons. Other states, such as Maryland, cover abortions for women whose pregnancies are affected by fetal abnormalities or present serious health risks. These expansions are important steps toward ensuring equal access to health care for all women.
The Hyde Amendment marginalizes and stigmatizes abortion care rather than recognizing it as an essential component of women’s health, and denies low-income women basic reproductive health care. The Hyde Amendment is reauthorized each year under appropriations bills for the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services. The current restrictive version of the Hyde Amendment does not provide coverage for abortions in cases of fetal abnormalities, or health exceptions apart from life-threatening conditions. Removing funding restrictions for abortion care is an integral step in ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible. American women have had the legal right to choose abortion for more than thirty years. To achieve reproductive equality for all women, restrictive barriers such as the Hyde Amendment must be removed.
The Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortions opened the door for the “rally cry” of liberal’s that babies should have no part of the decision of whether they live or die. I am Pro-Life and believe the Fifth Amendment should apply at conception and the fetus should not be deprived of life. If there is no life, there is no opportunity for liberty or a chance to own property. Murders, child abusers and rapist are all afforded legal rights to have a lawyer to plead their case, a chance for a jury decision and opinion of the Judge as to the penalty if convicted. The one thing that cannot even speak for itself is not afforded these rights with legalized abortions. Who pleads for unborn babies that it doesn’t want to be killed? Unborn babies do not get lawyers and that is a crime! These are the most basic rights that should be afforded to every citizen of the United States. I believe a citizen of the United States is made at conception. And, abortion is NOT a contraceptive aid! What do you think?
Information attained from: United States Constitution, National Abortion Federation, prochoice.org, oyez.org, u-s-history.com, chnm.gmu.edu and vox-nova.com.