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Archibald Cox and Roe



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Watergate aside, there’s always been more than a bit of admiration for the late Archibald Cox from pro-lifers, as he was one of the few left-of-center legal scholars who publicly trashed the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v Wade decision for concocting a bogus “right” to abortion on demand. In is 1976 book, The Role of the Supreme Court, Cox wrote that the Roe ruling (authored by Nixon appointee Harry Blackmun) “fails even to consider what I would suppose to be the most important compelling interest of the State in prohibiting abortion: the interest in maintaining that respect for the paramount sanctity of human life which has always been at the centre of Western civilization, not merely by guarding life itself, however defined, but by safeguarding the penumbra, whether at the beginning, through some overwhelming disability of mind or body, or at death.” Later in the book, Cox wrote: “The failure to confront the issue in principled terms leaves the opinion to read like a set of hospital rules and regulations, whose validity is good enough this week but will be destroyed with new statistics upon the medical risks of child-birth and abortion or new advances in providing for the separate existence of a foetus. . . . Neither historian, nor layman, nor lawyer will be persuaded that all the prescriptions of Justice Blackmun are part of the Constitution.” True then, and truer still now. R.I.P.



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