The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice has issued a statement on the nomination of Samuel Alito to the US Supreme Court:
President Bush has nominated Samuel Alito, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Alito’s written opinions on abortion and reproductive choice give us grave concern, and we urge the Senate to ask important questions about his views on the right to privacy in the coming weeks.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey
In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, Judge Alito voted to uphold Pennsylvania’s spousal notification requirement. In callous disregard of battered women who would be affected by the statute, Alito wrote separately from the majority to express his support for the law, which would have required Pennsylvania women to notify their husbands prior to obtaining an abortion. Alito wrote that “time delay, higher cost, reduced availability, and forcing the woman to receive information she has not sought,” although admittedly “potential burdens,” could not “be characterized as an undue burden.” This opinion practically ensures that he would never find any burden to be undue. The Supreme Court later ruled the spousal notification provision unconstitutional, holding that a state cannot give a man control over his wife, stating, “Women do not lose their constitutionally protected liberty when they marry.” The ruling also stated that “a State may not give to a man the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.” (Source: NARAL and Planned Parenthood)
Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey v. Farmer
In Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey v. Farmer, the Third Circuit was asked to rule on an abortion regulation that did not contain a valid health exception for the life of the woman. Alito ruled against the regulation, but wrote his own opinion instead of concurring with the opinion of the majority. He applied the Supreme Court precedents in both Roe v. Wade and Stenberg v. Carhart to overturn the statute while refusing to endorse the reasoning of the Supreme Court in either case. (Source: Planned Parenthood)
What's At Stake?
With two reproductive rights cases on the U.S. Supreme Court docket this term and a third likely to be heard, the stakes are enormous. The next Supreme Court Justice will be in a position to shape laws regarding reproductive choice for the next generation. (The cases are Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Scheidler v. NOW. The possible third case will be a challenge to the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.) Alito, if confirmed, will replaced Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who has been the pivotal vote in cases to protect reproductive rights. Justice O’Connor has brought an open-mind and pragmatic approach to every case. Alito must show that he will not impose his personal ideology, nor that of the Administration, on the Court, and that he is committed to protecting individual rights and freedoms.
Click here for more on RCRC.
Related Post: Can Christians Be Pro-Choice? Yes.