Glenn K. Beaton is a writer and columnist living in Colorado. He has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, RealClearPolitics, Powerline, Instapundit, American Thinker and numerous other print, radio and television outlets.
“My body, my choice” is a favorite slogan of abortion advocates. It’s thin gruel.
To the extent this slogan is an analysis and not just a chant, it assumes the conclusion. It assumes that a fetus anywhere from hours old to nearly born is simply owned in a legal property sense by the mother in whom it resides.
But that’s the whole question, right? That question is not answered by just determining the location of the fetus. If it were, then a mother wrapping her arms around her baby or toddler or husband could make the same argument; “My body, my choice.” Or could leave a toddler outside the house overnight with the argument, “My house, my choice.”
In other areas of law, philosophy, religion and morality, we don’t subordinate the rights of living creatures to legal property interests. The left’s sudden libertarian argument that it can do whatever it wants with whatever it owns seems not to apply in such things as building codes that require carbon monoxide detectors in “my” house. Or laws against indecent exposure of “my” body. Or noise ordinances against “my” stereo. Or laws against me ending “my” life. Or laws requiring me to wear a seat belt in “my” car.
So, what about “My house, my body, my stereo, my life, my car . . . my choice”?
You may reply that in those examples, there’s a societal interest countervailing the individual interest. We don’t want people to have to see your naughty bits, or hear your noise, or breathe your car’s emissions. But what about the laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in my house? And what about the laws requiring me to wear a seat belt? And laws prohibiting me from ending my life? It’s hard to argue that society has a direct interest in those things.
Here’s another example. Suppose a person buys a dog. Unlike a soon-to-be-born baby, the dog is indisputably owned by its owner. The dog is legally the owner’s property.
Suppose further that the dog owner decides when the puppy is about eight months old that he doesn’t want a dog after all. It’s too much effort, too expensive, too constraining, too interfering with the owner’s dating life, and too limiting on the travel that’s necessary for the owner’s career.
Note that there’s an alternative for a dog owner who changes his mind. He can bring the dog to the animal shelter where another person can adopt it.
Should the owner be allowed instead to slice and dice the dog with a machete and vacuum up the pieces, as we do with a fetus in a dilatation and extraction abortion?
After all, my dog, my choice. And after all, a dog is not a human being, is it?
No, we don’t allow that, and we shouldn’t. The reason we don’t allow that is that we’re not barbarians. We don’t have public executions either.
So, the abortion-on-demand crowd is left with the position that dogs have more right to life than 8-month-old unborn babies. Really?
There’s ownership and there’s ownership. What you “own” is not determinative of what you’re allowed to do with it. Society has a legitimate interest in regulating activities that lessen us as a culture.
After that little rant, you might assume I’m an abortion abolitionist. I’m not. I see it as the most difficult political/social/moral/legal issue of our time. I firmly believe the Supreme Court was right in deciding in an exercise of judicial modesty that it’s not a decision for them but for the people. As one of those people, I would favor state legislation that bars abortion in most instances after 15 weeks, as they do in most of Europe and all of Mississippi, but not before.
In that, I think I’m balancing legitimate and even a few illegitimate interests of a mother against legitimate interests of society and legitimate interests of the living creature within her womb. I recognize that others may reach a different balance. That’s why this is a decision for the people, not the judges.
It’s complicated. Saying that a fertilized egg is a human being like you and me that is entitled to all the protections of one, and so “abortion is murder,” does no more to illuminate the discussion than saying “My body, my choice.” Let’s get beyond sloganeering.
The old news of the leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion last May overruling Roe v. Wade has now been swamped by the new news of the Supreme Court’s final opinion a month later.
That final opinion, almost identical to Alito’s draft and joined by five of the nine Justices, held that Roe was wrong. As a matter of fact and law, the Constitution never mentions, alludes to, or implies a Constitutional right to abortion.
(Notice my use of the word “abortion” to identify abortion. Because “abortion” has a bad connotation, advocates of it seek to rebrand or euphemize the procedure with wooly obfuscation like “a woman’s right to choose” or “reproductive rights.” But “a woman’s right to choose” is ambiguous unless you think that abortion is the only thing women have the right to make a choice about. And “reproductive rights” is a deliberate misnomer, much like “Planned Parenthood.” This is not about the right to reproduce or become a parent, but the right not to.)
The Supreme Court’s decision returns the abortion question to the state legislatures elected by the people or the state constitutions enacted and amended by the people. The states are already going in different directions on the issue, as our system of Federalism permits and even intends.
This is a bad outcome only if you think that abortion is a moral wrong which, according to at least five unelected lawyers in black robes appointed for life, is barred sub silentio by the Constitution or you think abortion is a moral right that is granted sub silentio by that same Constitution.
I’m in neither camp. I’m instead in the camp that the Constitution says what it says and doesn’t say what it doesn’t say. I think this Supreme Court decision is not a bad outcome at all. Let the people and their elected legislatures puzzle out this philosophical, moral and religious – but not legal or Constitutional – issue. That’s what the Founders intended for such issues.
But there’s another question still unresolved. Who leaked Justice Alito’s draft opinion?
That question is important. This unprecedented leak shook the Court to its marble foundations. In the context of the Supreme Court, the leak was far worse than Watergate in the context of the presidency or the Pentagon Papers in the context of the military. This breach of confidence undermined the Justices’ deliberations, reputations, and authority.
Chief Justice John Roberts recognized the cataclysmic nature of the leak. In a rare press release, he called the leak “absolutely appalling” and said he was turning the matter over to law enforcement.
That was a couple of months ago. Since then, crickets.
Several theories have been advanced regarding the identity of the leaker. The obvious one is that it was a law clerk for one of the three liberal dissenting Justices who hoped the leak would generate such an outcry that the majority Justices would back down. Indeed, there are several law clerks with a history of abortion advocacy.
But I doubt this theory that it was a law clerk. Ivy League law school graduates are a mercantile bunch. I doubt they would jeopardize a hard-earned and lucrative career for this political Hail Mary.
Another theory is that the leaker was one of the dissenting Justices who naively thought the same – that the leak would pressure at least one of the majority Justices to change his or her mind.
Yet another theory is from the reverse-head-fake-counter-flop school. It was one of the five Justices who joined the Court’s opinion overruling Roe. The theory is that one of the other four were wavering. The leaker strategized that the leak would lock that wavering Justice into his or her tentative position, because changing his or her vote after the leak would reflect badly on the size of his or her cojones.
No Supreme Court Justice wants to be shown to have little cojones. These people could make ten-fold their government salary in private practice. They instead chose black robes, an audience that stands when they enter the room, and a raised dais from which they look down upon and interrupt those rich lawyers who chose the money route, all because it says they have big cojones. Without the cojones perk, the job offers no rewards.
But I think this theory is too clever by half. I can’t imagine a Justice in the majority thinking, “Gee, so-and-so Justice is wavering. How can I lock that Justice in to the preliminary vote on the case? I know, I’ll leak the draft opinion, and so he/she won’t be able to change his/her mind without looking like a cojones-lacking Justice.”
And so, I think the second theory is correct. One of the three dissenting Justices leaked the opinion in the hope that the ensuing protests would pressure at least one in the majority to change his or her mind. That obviously didn’t work, and if anything it may have had the opposite effect.
I suspect that the status of the law enforcement investigation is as follows. Law enforcement has interviewed the thirty-some clerks and reviewed their phone calls and emails. They’ve been cleared, else we’d have heard otherwise by now.
That leaves the Justices.
I suspect that Roberts stopped the investigation before law enforcement interviewed the Justices and reviewed their emails and phone records. Because he doesn’t want to deal with what he knows the investigators would find.
Roberts has always been obsessed with the status and prestige of the Court, which is not a bad thing for a Chief Justice to be obsessed about. Indeed, he refused to join the majority opinion in this case – instead writing a separate opinion saying he wanted to uphold the Mississippi law limiting abortion to 15 weeks without outright overruling Roe – because he wanted to conserve the power of the Court by issuing a small ruling and not at big one.
That approach is defensible. Overbroad decisions have the effect of binding future litigants who have not had their day in court, based on hypothetical and un-litigated facts. To avoid that, courts usually issue rulings no bigger than necessary to decide the case in front of them.
I thought the Court would approach this case that way. Roe was bad law, but it was not necessary to outright overrule it in order to uphold the Mississippi law.
Now, again trying to conserve the Court’s status and prestige, Roberts probably believes that implicating a sitting Supreme Court Justice in a criminal leak would be even more destructive to the Court than the leak itself.
He may be right. But still, as Chief Justice, isn’t part of his job description to be the chief of justice?
One last morsel for thought: If the leaker was indeed a Justice, the liberal reporter at Politico who broke the story and published the draft opinion now has kompromat on her.
Glenn Beaton practiced law in the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
Britain was blessed, cursed and obsessed with a controversial politician named Boris Johnson who had a good brain and mostly good policies but a bad personality. For the latter, he’s been canned. His own crew have jumped ship, effectively dragging their captain overboard with them.
Don’t feel sorry for Johnson. He’s a bit of a jerk, he got caught up in some ridiculous little scandals, he got very little backing from his friends whom he backed very little in their own times of need, he had a habit of saying attention-grabbing but inappropriate things, he’s a second-rate womanizer, and he has funny hair.
Johnson was a conservative, or a “Tory” as the Brits call them. You might therefore suppose that the outcome of this political fall would be that the opposing party, the Labour Party, or what we Americans would call the Democrats when we’re feeling charitable – or the Socialists, Marxists, Communists, Stalinists, Maoists or Chavistas when we’re not – now comes into power.
Wrong. When a British Prime Minister resigns before his term has expired, his successor is chosen by the majority party in Parliament. Today, that’s the Tories, the same party that chose Johnson.
After the Supreme Court’s decision saying that abortion is a matter for state legislatures to sort out, and not something addressed by the Constitution, as I predicted many months ago, the hard-left mayor of Chicago in a public speech spat “f*** Clarence Thomas!” (Devoid of any self-awareness, days later this same Democrat mayor bemoaned the toxicity of current political discussions.)
Note that this is not some bomb-throwing, Antifa/Democrat hoodlum, but is the mayor of one of the biggest cities in America. (OK, I’ll admit that she could be both.)
The mayor didn’t bother to tell us what part of the Constitution guarantees abortion on demand. But, no matter. For saying that none did, “f*** Clarence Thomas.” The mayor’s “analysis” was echoed by many other Democrats including most of their media allies.
Of the six Justices that formed the majority in the abortion case, Justice Thomas was singled out even though he wrote only a concurring opinion and not the opinion of the Court. The left routinely singles him out for special hate because he’s black. The left sees black people who won’t side with them as not just wrong, but uppity and possibly worthy of lynching. Who gave them permission to leave the Democrat plantation?
The Aspen Times months ago published a thinly supported story suggesting that one of the local billionaires was in league with Vladimir Putin. The billionaire filed suit against the newspaper for defamation. The newspaper wanted to settle the case.
Meanwhile, the newspaper was recently bought by a family-owned group of several dozen small newspapers. Much of the family are Republicans, which may be the determinative fact in this story.
The new owners asked that the newspaper staff refrain from commenting on the pending litigation while settlement talks were ongoing. That’s standard and prudent in legal proceedings. You don’t want employees saying things that might become evidence at trial or disrupt the settlement negotiations.
For years, a public high school football coach made a practice of saying short prayers after football games. He prayed whether he won or lost. Some of his players typically joined in, and some didn’t.
For that, he was fired.
This has been a long drive for the left. It started on their own 2-yard line about two centuries ago with Karl Marx scorning the masses he pretended to champion by mocking their “opiate” of religion. Marx and his fellow travelers preferred the opiate of opiate.
Marx’s antipathy toward religion gained traction in the Soviet Union. Revealing one’s faith was a detriment to advancement in the Communist Party, and the Party controlled everything. The faithful had their property confiscated and they endured open ridicule and ostracism by institutions such as schools, employers and the media. (Does this sound eerily familiar?)
Readers will remember the Aspen Times. They’re the little but old – venerable, we’re told – newspaper of Aspen. These days it’s a hard left rag in a hard left town of limousine liberals who are screwed, swindled, salved and soothed by the local Stalinists in an obscene spectacle something like a Mexican donkey show.
One of the frequent perks for Aspen Times editors and reporters, as for many other members of the ruling Aspen establishment, is housing subsidized by the limo-libs for dimes on the dollars – often slopeside.
I was the token conservative columnist with the Aspen Times for seven years. But I grew a little big for my britches. Over that time, I became the most-read columnist in the newspaper. Then I started to become more-read than even front-page news. I was occasionally the very most-clicked item in the newspaper.
Ah, but that wasn’t their goal. I was hired not to succeed in offering a viewpoint contrary to the Aspen leftwing establishment, but to be a token. So, on Christmas Eve in 2019 they fired me. By email.
It’s a biological fact that, generally speaking, males in relation to females are naturally larger, more physical, more ambitious, stronger, faster, cruder, stinkier, hairier, more competitive and hornier. Those traits are wired into them as tightly as the DNA in their Y chromosome, and are all awash in the testosterone hormone produced in their testicles.
At times, those traits can be problematic. At other times, they can save the day, save the world, or save a child.
We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.