|Monday, August 28, 2000||
Volume 66, Issue 6
Treviño on cannibalism
|Abortion not a guaranteed
Adam D. Elrod
Disagreement has been a fundamental part of American politics since this nation's inception. The founding fathers of this nation were far from unanimous about any controversy that faced America during the late 18th century. Men like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr had political disagreements over everything from independence to the Constitution.
One of the most troubling political changes of the late 20th century was the demise of true political discourse. This was the fundamental principle that is necessary for a representative democracy to be sustained.
The civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, one of America's greatest triumphs, unfortunately set the stage for a political abuse that, unchecked, could bring the principle of democracy to an end. The civil rights movement is based on the principles that each person, by virtue of his or her humanity, is granted rights which cannot be taken away by the government. When the Congress of the late 1960's demonstrated a distinct lack of courage in failing to strike down the bigoted Jim Crow laws, the judicial system was forced to step in through cases like Brown v. Board of Education and force the American government to observe the rights of all citizens.
This was the correct course of action for both the civil rights movement and the judicial branch of the government because political debate had run its course and no action was taken to correct an obvious problem. Unfortunately, some groups saw that judicial success as an opportunity to avoid political debate in the congress in order to get legislation passed through the court system.
The prime example of this is the abortion debate and Roe v. Wade. The issue of abortion was never given the chance to be debated in Congress. The Supreme Court laid down the law as if it had the power of a monarch and abortion was then an issue that could no longer be questioned. The democratic process, in which representatives of each American district convene and debate each issue, was completely bypassed.
In an even more egregious abuse of the federal court system, the Supreme Court, in the fashion of a dictator, overruled a state legislature that voted to ban partial birth abortion. The Court declared such a ban unconstitutional.
After reading (and rereading) the Constitution, I see no guarantee to the right to abort. However, there is a guarantee in the Constitution that states, "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives." The power to create and amend laws should be left to the congress, not the federal court system.
I am unabashedly pro-life. However, regardless of your opinion on this issue, you should agree that the abuse of the judicial system in this case was inexcusable. Allowing groups to go unrepresented in the establishment of laws is a dangerous precedent to set. As a nation we were created on the premise that, if all groups are represented in the governing body, a rational compromise can be reached through debate and public discourse.
Bypassing this debate is a dangerous step in the wrong direction.
Elrod can be reached at