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Biden and Palin on Roe


I agree with Ramesh that it’s not Palin but Biden who should be embarrassed by the exchange with Couric on Roe. The general view that the Constitution protects a right to privacy does not require, as Couric seemed to imply, support for Roe v. Wade or an abortion right. In their confirmation hearings, Justices Roberts and Alito were asked exactly the same question Couric asked Palin—do you believe the constitution protects a right to privacy? Roberts replied:

Senator, I do. The right to privacy is protected under the Constitution in various ways.

Alito replied:

Senator, I do agree that the Constitution protects a right to privacy.

But Biden’s reply on Roe is really astonishing. He has been a working politician, a US Senator, for the entire 35 years that have passed since Roe, and so he has certainly seen the effect the decision and the abortion issue have had on our politics in that time, yet he somehow nonetheless insists that Roe created something like a consensus on abortion, or has come as close as we can to addressing the issue. And what’s more, that (absurd) claim is the entirety of his argument. He doesn’t really even pretend that the Constitution actually says what the Court pretended to find in it in Roe. He makes a vague mention of the privacy right, but attributes his support for Roe to the notion that “it’s as close to a consensus that can exist in a society as heterogeneous as ours.” Even if that were true, would it mean the case was rightly decided? Biden then concludes with an erroneous description of our abortion jurisprudence and of the 14th Amendment. The great statesman strikes again.


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