Thursday, September 02, 2010

I've Had It. Good Bye.

Today I did something that had some personal significance. I re-registered to vote so that I could change my party affiliation from Republican to Decline to State. It's something I've been thinking of doing for a while, but never really got around to. What finally pushed me to do it, though, was what I kept reading from several "insider" Republicans about GOP U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina during her first, and probably last, debate with current Senator Barbara "Don't Call Me Ma'am" Boxer. These "insiders" kept saying, via Facebook and Twitter, that Fiorina was "pro-life," and wasn't it wonderful how she didn't waver from that position.

The major problem I have with these people's assertion about the pro-life bona fides of Fiorina is that it's totally disingenuous. Yes, Carly Fiorina has expressly said she's against abortion. What she has not expressed, however, is a belief that abortion is far from being a valid right under the Constitution. Fiorina has also never said whether she at least supports enacting laws which would restrict abortion access. For all anyone knows, the stance that Carly Fiorina has on abortion mirrors the famously logic challenged/contorted stance of former New York State Governor Mario Cuomo: personally against abortion, but supports the legal right to choose abortion.*

Adding to my frustration is that none of these "insiders" I have asked who actively supports Carly Fiorina has even tried to refute the gaping holes I have poked in the suggestive assertion that Fiorina believes abortion should not be a legal right, or at least an extremely limited one. These people basically just ignore me thinking that in doing so I'll go away. Well, they're right. I have gone away. But not too quietly.

*So much might even be inferred from the partial response Fiorina gave in her debate with Boxer to a question of whether she supports the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Fiorina said that since California voters have determined abortion should be a legal right, she is prepared to trust the voters' judgment.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

John Paul Stevens: Dumbest Supreme Court Justice Ever?

Matthew Franck at NRO's Bench Memos blog nicely refutes a kind of homage by Yale Law School instructor Linda Greenhouse to the recently retired Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens. The context of Greenhouse's fawning is a case involving a display of the 10 Commandments on the walls of a couple of courthouses in Kentucky.
[Greenhouse] particularly admires one of Stevens’ worst notions, noting that he was “the only justice willing to articulate the position that laws incorporating the view that life begins at conception are theological exercises that should be invalidated on Establishment Clause grounds.” The “only justice” indeed. No other justice ever joined Stevens in this view, probably because it is one of the dumbest ever pronounced by a justice of the Supreme Court.

Stevens first expressed this view, to my knowledge, in his opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989), 560ff. The Missouri law at issue in that case had declared that every human life “begins at conception.” Justice Stevens professed himself incapable of seeing any “secular legislative purpose” in such a declaration, and held that therefore the law expressed a purely “theological” point of view and was thus a violation of the establishment-of-religion clause of the first amendment. But of course the “purpose” of the Missouri declaration was obvious on its face. It was intended to state, and did state, a fact as a predicate for the statutory requirements to follow. Standard textbooks in embryology, then as now, unequivocally declared the scientific fact that every human life begins at conception. What an embryology textbook cannot tell us, as a matter of biology, is what to do about that fact–what moral requirement, if any, that fact should impose on us. This is what the Missouri legislature, quite reasonably, sought to do.
You can read the entirety of Franck's excellent blog post here. There's even some St. Thomas Aquinas thrown in.