By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In a shocking admission during a conversation with Princeton University Provost Christopher Eisgruber, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the Court went too far in the landmark 1973 case, Roe v. Wade, a decision that legalized abortion and led to the death of nearly 50 million Americans.
According to Princeton’s Town Topics, Ginsburg said that the decision, which passed seven-to-two, “wasn’t a big surprise,” but what was surprising was “how far the Court had gone.”
“I think the Court bit off more than it could chew,” she said, adding that “there would have been an opportunity for dialogue with state legislatures” to “reduce restrictions on access to abortion” had the ruling been slightly different.”
Ms. Ginsburg said that at the time of the case, laws regarding “choice” were in “in a state of flux” and noted a “gradual opening up” of abortion legislation.
“Of course it has to be the woman’s choice, but the Court should not have done it all,” she said. “It is dangerous to go to the end of the road when all you see in front of you are a few yards.”
As a result, she believes the decision was “an easy target” that “became a rallying point for people who disagreed with choice.”
Ironically, in light of her position on abortion, Ginsburg told the audience the 14th amendment was her “favorite provision” in the Constitution, especially especially the end of Section 1, which reads: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”
The pro-life movement has long argued that this very same clause makes it clear that the unborn deserve legal protection.
During the discussion, Ginsburg also mentioned that she disagrees with her pro-life colleagues on the Court who say the Constitution should not be taken out of context to justify decisions like Roe.
“I do not think this Constitution is a document that is frozen in time,” Ms. Ginsburg said. Her view exists in sharp contrast with other justices on the bench who are known to be strict constructionists. Calling the courts “reactive institutions,” she listed the “two great questions running through the law,” namely, “Who decides?” and “Where do you draw the line?”
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