What Truth-Telling Liberals Say About Roe v. Wade
What Truth-Telling Liberals Say About Roe v. Wade
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   12.04.21
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The fact that “progressives” in their opposition to constitutional textualists/originalists—whom leftists know approach the U.S. Constitution with more rigorous fidelity than do “progressive” Justices—focus almost exclusively on the possibility that Roe v. Wade may be overturned would seem a tacit admission that there exists no constitutional right of women to have their intrauterine offspring slaughtered. The infamous Roe v. Wade is on the chopping block, and leftists are more distraught over the possible decapitation of Roe than they are over the actual decapitations of tiny humans.

In their frenzied fear that human slaughter may be one day be illegal, leftists fume irrationally that the overturn of Roe threatens the constitutional right of stronger, more developed, and powerful humans (i.e., oppressors) to order the killings of weaker, imperfect, unwanted humans (i.e., the oppressed). Well, here’s some food for thought about Roe v. Wade from “progressives” who support the legal right of women to choose to have more vulnerable humans killed—quotes that shrieking feminists may find wholly unpalatable:

  • “One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.” (Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law School professor).
  • “As a matter of constitutional interpretation and judicial method, Roe borders on the indefensible. I say this as someone utterly committed to the right to choose” (Edward Lazarus, former clerk to SCOTUS Justice Harry Blackmun).
  • What, exactly, is the problem with Roe? The problem, I believe, is that it has little connection to the Constitutional right it purportedly interpreted. A constitutional right to privacy broad enough to include abortion has no meaningful foundation in constitutional text, history, or precedent—at least, it does not if those sources are fairly described and reasonably faithfully followed” (Edward Lazarus).
  • “[A]s a matter of constitutional interpretation, even most liberal jurisprudes — if you administer truth serum—will tell you it is basically indefensible” (Edward Lazarus).
  • “Blackmun’s [Supreme Court] papers vindicate every indictment of Roe: invention, overreach, arbitrariness, textual indifference” (William SaletanSlate magazine writer).
  • Roe “is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be…. What is frightening about Roe is that this super-protected right is not inferable from the language of the Constitution, the framers’ thinking respecting the specific problem in issue, any general value derivable from the provisions they included, or the nation’s governmental structure. Nor is it explainable in terms of the unusual political impotence of the group judicially protected vis-à-vis the interest that legislatively prevailed over it.… At times the inferences the Court has drawn from the values the Constitution marks for special protection have been controversial, even shaky, but never before has its sense of an obligation to draw one been so obviously lacking” (John Hart Ely, clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren).
  • Roe “is a lousy opinion that disenfranchised millions of conservatives on an issue about which they care deeply.” (Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution).
  • “[T]he very basis of the Roe v. Wade decision—the one that grounds abortion rights in the Constitution—strikes many people now as faintly ridiculous. Whatever abortion may be, it cannot simply be a matter of privacy…. As a layman, it’s hard for me to raise profound constitutional objections to the decision. But it is not hard to say it confounds our common-sense understanding of what privacy is. If a Supreme Court ruling is going to affect so many people then it ought to rest on perfectly clear logic and up-to-date science. Roe, with its reliance on trimesters and viability, has a musty feel to it, and its argument about privacy raises more questions than it answers…. “[Roe] is a Supreme Court decision whose reasoning has not held up. It seems more fiat than argument…. Still, a bad decision is a bad decision. If the best we can say for it is that the end justifies the means, then we have not only lost the argument—but a bit of our soul as well” (Richard CohenWashington Post columnist).
  • “Judges have no special competence, qualifications, or mandate to decide between equally compelling moral claims (as in the abortion controversy) …. [C]lear governing constitutional principles… are not present” (Alan Dershowitz, former Harvard Law School professor).
  • “In short, 30 years later, it seems increasingly clear that this pro-choice magazine was correct in 1973 when it criticized Roe on constitutional grounds. Its overturning would be the best thing that could happen to the federal judiciary, the pro-choice movement, and the moderate majority of the American people…. Thirty years after Roe, the finest constitutional minds in the country still have not been able to produce a constitutional justification for striking down restrictions on early-term abortions that is substantially more convincing than Justice Harry Blackmun’s famously artless opinion itself. As a result, the pro-choice majority asks nominees to swear allegiance to the decision without being able to identify an intelligible principle to support it” (Jeffrey Rosen, George Washington University Law School professor, former clerk to Judge Abner Mikva).
  • “Liberal judicial activism peaked with Roe v. Wade, the 1973 abortion decision…. Although I am pro-choice, I was taught in law school, and still believe, that Roe v. Wade is a muddle of bad reasoning and an authentic example of judicial overreaching” (Michael Kinsley, attorney, political journalist).
  • “[I]t is time to admit in public that, as an example of the practice of constitutional opinion writing, Roe is a serious disappointment. You will be hard-pressed to find a constitutional law professor, even among those who support the idea of constitutional protection for the right to choose, who will embrace the opinion itself rather than the result. This is not surprising. As constitutional argument, Roe is barely coherent. The court pulled its fundamental right to choose more or less from the constitutional ether. It supported that right via a lengthy, but purposeless, cross-cultural historical review of abortion restrictions and a tidy but irrelevant refutation of the straw-man argument that a fetus is a constitutional ‘person’ entited [sic] to the protection of the 14th Amendment…. By declaring an inviolable fundamental right to abortion, Roe short-circuited the democratic deliberation that is the most reliable method of deciding questions of competing values” (Kermit Roosevelt, University of Pennsylvania Law School professor).
  • “The failure to confront the issue in principled terms leaves the opinion to read like a set of hospital rules and regulations…. Neither historian, nor layman, nor lawyer will be persuaded that all the prescriptions of Justice Blackmun are part of the Constitution” (Archibald Cox, JFK’s Solicitor General, former Harvard Law School professor).

Roe v. Wade, my friends, is the SCOTUS decision that “progressives” argue absolute fidelity to precedent demands Justices uphold. If they think “lousy,” “indefensible,” “barely coherent,” unintelligible, a-constitutional non-reasoning must be honored in slavish service to the political end of allowing feticide, I hate to imagine what they would have thought about revisiting Dred Scott.

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins was the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008 through early 2023. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years in Deerfield High School’s writing center in Deerfield, Illinois. Her cultural commentaries have been carried on a number of pro-family websites nationally and internationally, and Laurie has appeared on numerous radio programs across the country. In addition, Laurie has spoken at the Council for National Policy and educational conferences sponsored by the Constitutional Coalition. She has been married to her husband for forty-four years, and they have four grown children...
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