Thursday, July 14, 2005

Privacy, Equal Protection & Presidential Powers: Selecting a New Justice O'Connor

Here's my two-and-a-half cents on Roe v. Wade and selecting new Supreme Court Justices. I don't believe there should be a litmus test of whether or not a potential jurist supports or opposes abortion. Such a position would be a personal stance, not relevant to faithfully upholding the Constitution.

When Roe somehow, some way comes up for review...and it will...I will devote space here to dissecting my take on overturning or staying that 1973 ruling.

However, ideology is extremely relevant in reviewing potential justices, as eloquently stated by the Center for American Progress....

The White House is already trying to limit the scope of evaluation of its Supreme Court nominees to little more than a test of basic character and behavior. Trying to rewrite more than 200 years of judicial history, the White House line ignores the critical and proper need to evaluate the judicial and constitutional philosophy of potential justices.

Today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will join with the Center for American Progress in releasing a letter signed by more than 100 legal scholars that explains the need for senators to "undertake a searching inquiry" into a nominee's judicial philosophy. The public has a right to know answers to some of the most important judicial questions today, including:

Are legal protections based on race or sex guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment? The Equal Protection Clause denies states the ability to discriminate against anyone and is the basis for protecting almost all civil rights. As the letter states: “The Supreme Court has established a framework for determining when certain classes of people are protected by the Equal Protection Clause. For instance, when the government makes classifications based upon characteristics such as race and sex, those classifications are subject to heightened scrutiny and more likely to be found unconstitutional. Classifications based on economic distinctions, on the other hand, have been subjected to only limited judicial scrutiny.” Americans need to know a nominee’s view of these distinctions in order to assess their commitment to basic civil rights protections.

Is there is a constitutionally protected right to privacy? The Supreme Court has declared that the constitution does protect the right to privacy, which is the underpinning of most reproductive rights and freedoms in the U.S including contraception. Americans deserve to know whether a nominee agrees with this right to privacy and under what circumstances it applies.

Is the president above the law, even during a time of war? As the letter states, “The attacks of September 11 have prompted a constitutional debate over the limits of government power and the scope of presidential authority in a time of national crisis.” The public needs to know a nominee’s view of these developments and what judicial checks and balances they believe apply during these difficult times.

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