Justice Scalia: Abortion Rights Not in Constitution

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

In a speech delivered at the University of Richmond last Friday, Supreme Court Justice Anonin Scalia reiterated his view that the U.S. Constitution does not contain the right to abortion.

According to a report by LifeNews.com, Justice Scalia delivered a speech entitled “Do Words Matter” in which he said the Constitution must be taken literally, as written, rather than interpreted in ways that create rights that are not intended to be protected under law.

“The Constitution says what it says and it doesn’t say anything more,” he said.

For those who think the document should be “flexible” and change with the times, “all you need is a legislature and a ballot box,” he said, implying that those in favor of abortion rights should go that route rather than use activist judges and the court system to create new laws.

But by allowing the Supreme Court to create rights not enumerated by the Constitution – “you’re allowing five out of nine hotshot lawyers to run the country,” he said. “Unless the words have meaning and unless judges give them their fair meaning, democracy doesn’t work.”

Justice Scalia said the Founding Fathers never envisioned abortion rights when drafting the U.S. Constitution and criticized those who misinterpret the 14th Amendment’s due process clause to include abortion.

“But some of the liberties the Supreme Court has found to be protected by that word—liberty—nobody thought constituted a liberty when the 14th Amendment was adopted,” he said. “Abortion? It was criminal in all the states” at that time, he said.

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