States should decide Roe v. Wade

Recent conversation regarding Roe v. Wade would be enlightened by placing it in an historical perspective.

The founders established a small federal government subject to the will of the people.

The constitution enumerated the specific powers of the federal government and specifically delegated everything else to the individual states to be dealt with as their constituents expressly desired.

Lacking immortality, the founders put into place a process for adding powers to the federal government through congressional legislation.

In that way, the founders died believing that “the people” would determine the extent of Federal powers.

In 1973, the Supreme Court “saw” a right to abortion in the stated right to privacy.

Thus, all state laws on the matter were superseded by the court’s interpretation.

Clearly, the issue remains a hot button topic for many, and no clear national consensus currently exists.

Recent SCOTUS nominees, asked about this decision, responded that it was “settled law” and would not speculate on hypothetical future cases ­– as is only proper.

However, history informs us that “settled law” is only settled until a future court decides it is not.

A review of Plessy v. Ferguson is appropriate. Plessy, a Black man, took a seat in a “whites only” passenger train car and was removed.

He sued for relief and the case went to the SCOTUS. In 1896, the court ruled that “separate but equal” was not discriminatory and dismissed Plessy’s case. Separate but equal became legal.

We saw segregated restaurants, rest facilities, transportation, education, etc. enter American life. Plessy was “settled law.”

Many years later, a Black person sued to attend a white school. The NAACP took up the case and was led by a young Thurgood Marshall, later the first black on SCOTUS.

In this case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), SCOTUS found in favor of Brown and that “separate but equal has no place…”

Plessy was settled law for 58 years — until it wasn’t. Courts can reverse themselves — thankfully.

Roe v. Wade has been settled law for only 49 years.

So, SCOTUS can reverse itself or the people, through their elected representatives, can speak for them — as they did in the Dred Scott decision.

Scott was a slave living in a free state but claimed by his “owner.”

In 1857, SCOTUS ruled that he be returned to his owner. The Dred Scott decision became “settled law.”

However, the people subsequently spoke loudly and clearly, with the 13th (1865) and 14th (1868) amendments to the constitution.

The amendments passed in Congress and were ratified by the individual states.

The Dred Scott decision was “settled law” no more and the will of the people prevailed.

I recognize, and acknowledge, the passionate views on abortion.

The issue should be debated with congressional representatives until a clear national consensus emerges.

Until then, the issue rightly belongs with each state and its legislatures.

Chris Gable is a retired financial advisor and occasional contributor to the Opinion page. He resides in Altoona.


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