Roundup: Ballot Measures Gain Attention, Roe’s Impact Beyond Abortion, Most Catholics Agree with Pelosi


California’s ‘Parental Consent’ Proposition 

Francesca Ratner of the LA Times tackles the third incarnation of
California’s ‘Parental Consent’ ballot proposition from her perspective
as an uninformed citizen looking to make up her mind about Proposition
Four.  Ratner reads through the proposition, seeks some clarification
from a spokesperson for the proposition and from an unaffiliated law
professor and then offers her interpretation of the proposed law:  

Proposition to Curtail Abortion for Teenage Girls:

* Do not allow minors to obtain abortions behind their parents’ backs.

*
Create an undue burden on physicians, with miles of red tape and severe
repercussions for a misstep in filing notifications, reports, etc.

* Make sure pregnant teens go through humiliation and exposure.

* Create a pretext for taking the matter of abortion to court.

* Add vague clauses regarding "court relief" and "coercion," which could warrant further litigation. 

Abortion is an unfortunate occurrence for women, and even more so for
underage girls. And performing one on a minor behind her parents’ backs
is often wrong. Nonetheless, selling Proposition 4 as just "parental
notification" is dishonest. Those who use such ploys should not be
allowed to rewrite the Constitution.

 

Pastors Form Group To Support South Dakota Abortion Ban

Measure 11 is a proposition that will be put to voters on the ballot in
South Dakota this November.  The measure proposes to ban all abortions
except in cases of rape and incest or to protect the life of the
mother.  According to our Election 2008 page
the measure, if passed, would enact "one of the
most restrictive abortion laws in the country."  Now pastors in South
Dakota are working to organize support for the measure through the
Lampstand Project, seeking to involve as many as 800 churches in a campaign.  Other churches are aligning themselves with the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, which opposes the measure. 

 

The Principles of Choice, Privacy and Gender Eqaulity Embodied in Roe Extends Beyond Abortion

Cass Sunstein, professor of law at Harvard, writes an opinion piece in the Sunday edition of The Boston Globe arguing that Roe v. Wade as written in 1973 was "far from a model of legal reasoning" and "it ruled far too broadly."  He also notes that "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – the most
important women’s rights lawyer in the history of American law, but
also a judicial ‘minimalist’ – has sharply criticized Roe for doing so
much so fast."  Sunstein then writes, however, that

… it is one thing to object to Roe as written in 1973. It is another
to suggest that it should be overruled in 2008. American constitutional
law is stable only because of the principle of stare decisis, which
means that in general, the Court should respect its own precedents.

The decision has become "settled law" that has impacted the development of policy at a fundamental level since it was made :

Roe v. Wade has been established law for 35 years; the right to choose
is now a part of our culture. A decision to overrule it would not only
disrupt and polarize the nation; it would also threaten countless
doctors, and pregnant women and girls, with jail sentences and criminal
fines. As Ginsburg has also urged, Roe v. Wade is now best seen, not
only as a case about privacy, but also as involving sex equality.

In this respect any effort to overturn a landmark Supreme Court case that has played a role in establishing a fundamental right to privacy and even gender equality would not be ‘conservative’ at all, but would be a radical overturning of ‘settled law':

No one should disparage the convictions of those who believe that
abortion is an immoral act. But after more than three decades, a
decision to overrule Roe v. Wade, and to throw an established domain of
human liberty into turmoil, would be anything but conservative. It is
relevant here that many people, including McCain running mate Sarah
Palin, believe that abortion is unacceptable even in cases of rape and
incest, and there is little doubt that if Roe is overruled, some states
will enact that belief into law.

For the future of constitutional
rights, there is a broader point, which involves the fragility of many
constitutional principles. Of course the Supreme Court tends to move
slowly, but some conservatives who speak of "strict construction," and
of "legislating from the bench," have something quite radical in mind.

For them, these are code words. They seek to appoint judges who will
overturn not merely Roe, but dozens of other past decisions. For
example, they want judges to impose flat bans on affirmative action, to
invalidate environmental regulations, to increase presidential power,
and to reduce the separation of church and state. Some Republican
appointees to the Supreme Court have already called for significant
changes in constitutional law in these domains.

Does all this
sound like "strict construction"? Actually there is an uncomfortably
close overlap between the constitutional views of some recent
Republican appointees to the federal judiciary and the political views
of those on the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party. There is a
good chance that a newly constituted Supreme Court would entrench some
of those views into constitutional law.

 

Pelosi Views on Abortion in Sync with Most Catholics

The San Francisco Chronicle follows up last month’s Meet the Press comments from Speaker Nancy Pelosi with some polling data that shows her views are in live with the views of a majority of other Catholics:

In fact, while the bishops may seek to make abortion an election
issue, it is clear from a poll conducted by the noted Washington, D.C.,
firm of Belden Russonello & Stewart, that many of the hierarchy’s
teachings on reproductive health and rights have not been received by
the faithful. For example, 6 in 10 support keeping abortion legal and 7
in 10 say they feel no obligation to vote against candidates who
support abortion. An even larger majority (75 percent) disapproves of
denying Communion to Catholics who support legal abortion.

Catholic voters are not concerned with so-called values issues as
much as they are with improving the economy (68 percent saying it
should be one of the highest priorities); protecting the United States
from terrorism (54 percent); resolving the war in Iraq (50 percent);
and making health care more affordable (48 percent).


Campaigns Competing for Women’s Vote

This past Sunday’s New York Times ran an extensive look at the McCain and Obama campaigns’ efforts to secure the votes of women.  Both campaigns are spending a lot of money on TV advertising and time on the campaign trail talking about the issues women care most about.  For the Obama campaign that means

… drawing attention to Mr. McCain’s record on issues that particularly
resonate with women: his opposition to abortion rights, his votes
against expanded health insurance for children and pay equity
legislation, and his support for private investment accounts for Social
Security, of concern among white women over 50, a group Mr. Obama has
had trouble winning over.

The McCain campaign’s strategy

… is to emphasize personality, capitalizing on the booming celebrity of
Ms. Palin, highlighting Mr. McCain’s story as a war hero, showcasing
their families, and trying to keep alive the anger about sexism that
many women felt during Mr. Obama’s primary campaign against Mrs.
Clinton.

The most recent edition of Newsweek also takes an in depth look at women voters and how they are approaching the nomination of Sarah Palin and evaluating the issues at stake in this election:

It is important to be cautious about generalizing about female voters. The voting record of women in the past few decades shows that they are more likely to vote for issues—particularly the economy and foreign policy—than gender. Female voters tend to be more concerned about war, education and health.


Giuliani Defends ‘Comprehensive Sex Education for Kindergartners’ Ad on Meet the Press

Rudy Giuliani did his best to defend a controversial and misleading TV ad run briefly by the McCain campaign last week insinuating that Obama supports a plan that would teach explicit sex education to Kindergarten students.  Giuliani, continuing the GOP deception of the facts of this comprehensive sex education curriculum, said "I think the only thing wrong with that ad is that it lists it as an accomplishment of Mr. Obama." Giuliani failed to mention the false insinuations about the important details of the sex education curriculum that Obama supports, namely that it would only teach Kindergarten students age-appropriate information including appropriate and inappropriate touching.  Lines 11 and 12 of Section 2 of the Illinois law in question clearly state that all cruuriculm is to be age-appropriate. Giuliani defelected all important criticisms by simply ignoring them and then moving quickly to a non-answer challenge to Barack Obama to meet with McCain in a town-hall style setting.

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    Cass Sunstein says:

    Does all this sound like “strict construction”? Actually there is an uncomfortably close overlap between the constitutional views of some recent Republican appointees to the federal judiciary and the political views of those on the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party. There is a good chance that a newly constituted Supreme Court would entrench some of those views into constitutional law.

    Judicial activism, anyone?