The Corner

Barging Into Someone Else’s Discussion

Steve Bainbridge raises the question: “Does any theory of constitutional interpretation that validates Roe v. Wade constitutes material cooperation with evil?” Like a number of the respondents at the site just linked, I’m going to rephrase the question–but only slightly–in the hope of clarifying some of the issues involved. “Does any theory of constitutional interpretation that yields a requirement that a private right to kill unborn human beings be recognized constitute material cooperation with evil?” My answer is no. If “abortion rights” really were in the Constitution–if, say, there were a constitutional amendment saying, “The right to kill unborn human beings shall not be infringed by the states or the federal government”–then we would have a moral obligation to amend the Constitution. Perhaps our moral obligations to the government would be affected–would judges in some cases have to resign? I’d have to think that through further. I’m pretty sure that it would not be immoral to read the Constitution to include what would clearly be in it. Another interesting question: When, as a matter of practical judgment, is one warranted in concluding that someone’s creative constitutional theory of Roe has been devised solely to justify it?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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