One of my favorite slogans from the right is the hue and cry about “activist judges” who “create rights out of whole cloth.” One of the favorites is the “right to privacy,” which is not in the Constitution in that form, but has been deduced from the 3rd, 4th, and 14th Amendments in cases before the Supreme Court.
In this case, the pundit in question will pontificate about it not being found in the document in that form so it must not be true. This is also an argument against the “separation of church and state” among the religious right, as well as other rights they don’t like.
“If only Newt Gingrich weren’t a bit too moderate, and a bit too sleazy,” the argument goes, “he’d be the perfect presidential candidate. He’s like a professor, he’s so highly educated and intelligent and could best Barack Obama in a debate with no worries.”
And yet this “scholar” at the Thanksgiving Family Forum had the following to say about the 14th Amendment to the Constitution:
I am intrigued with something which Robby George at Princeton has come up with, which is an interpretation of the 14th Amendment, in which it says that Congress shall define personhood. That’s very clearly in the 14th Amendment. And part of what I would like to explore is whether or not you could get the Congress to pass a law which simply says: Personhood begins at conception. And therefore—and you could, in the same law, block the court and just say, ‘This will not be subject to review,’ which we have precedent for. You would therefore not have to have a constitutional amendment, because the Congress would have exercised its authority under the 14th Amendment to define life, and to therefore undo all of Roe vs. Wade, for the entire country, in one legislative action.
Now, any reading of the 14th Amendment that says Congress will define personhood is coming from a thick mantle of ideology. Here’s the text in question:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I can’t imagine the mental gyrations needed to get this to say Congress can define personhood. It’s defining citizenship, and that’s just a bit different. Just a little bit.
But Newt wants to go much, much further. He has posited that the President should be able to arrest judges who would not comply with congressional subpoenas, and that certain federal jurisdictions should be done away with because he doesn’t like the way they find in certain cases.
The Republican Party has gone from being a mainstream ideology with a modern worldview to being a dangerous force for repression and theocracy in this country. And if we don’t stop them, gods help us.