Pro-abortion Justice Ginsburg on Roe, Casey, and the future of abortion

By Dave Andrusko

MSNBC’s Irin Carmon interviewing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

To Washington, DC, gossip and rumors are the secular equivalent of the bread of life. Thus, as surely as night follows day, now that Judge Neil Gorsuch is Justice Neil Gorsuch, there is rampant speculation about which, if any, justices are thinking about retirement.

To be clear, no one but the individual justices knows if this is their last term. In one sense, an obvious possibility is pro-abortion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who, at 84, is the High Court’s older stateswoman. In another sense, she is the least likely. More than once she publicly bristled when pro-abortionists signaled it was time for to retire while Barack Obama was still President.

Below I’m re-running a story we posted a while back about Ginsburg, not because her retirement is imminent, but because of how Ginsburg (in an interview with Irin Carmon ) mangled the status of abortion prior to Roe and completely misses how the decision is like a bone stuck in the throat of the American people to this day.

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There are some prerogatives if you are co-authoring a book about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For example, you get to interview her at the Supreme Court and act like chums, as was the case with MSNBC’s Irin Carmon.

I’ve only seen the transcript of the entire interview, not the actual interview that appeared Monday on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Let’s talk about a few of the more interesting insights into Justice Ginsburg’s thinking that came out of the interview.

#1. How appropriate it is in describing the status of abortion laws prior to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that Ginsburg would radically understate what the real situation was–just as the breadth and depth of Roe is minimized to this day.

Justice Ginsburg told Carmon

Remember that before Roe v. Wade was decided, there were four states that allowed abortion in the first trimester if that’s what the woman sought. New York, Hawaii, California, Alaska.

Truth be told, abortion was legal on demand through 24 weeks and in some states beyond!

#2. Most pro-abortionists rent their garments at the thought of the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision which pried open the door allowing entry of some commonsense pro-life measures that the High Court heretofore had rejected. Ginsburg has a different—or additional—take. (Her response was in the context of whether the Court would overturn Roe and Ginsburg cited the Court’s adherence to precedent in explaining why she thought they wouldn’t.)

They gave a reason [in Casey], a rationale that was absent in Roe v. Wade itself. Roe v. Wade was as much about a doctor’s right to practice his profession as he sees fit. And the image was the doctor and a little woman standing together. We never saw the woman alone. The Casey decision recognized that this is not as much about a doctor’s right to practice his profession, but about a woman’s right to control her life destiny.

Surely it was true that if you read Justice Blackmun’s opinions in Roe (and the companion case, Doe v. Bolton), it was more about deference to physicians than it was about extending the “right” to abortion to women.

In Casey, by contrast, some of the justices soared off into metaphysical ramblings—specifically in its so-called “mystery passage.”

They asserted that the abortion liberty is necessary in order “to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

“Beliefs about these matters,” they wrote, “could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.” As pretentious as it was incoherent.

#3. Ginsburg gave no hint she has any intention of retiring soon. “I’m concerned about doing the job full steam,” she told Carmon. “And I’ve said many times, once I sense that I am slipping, I will step down.”

As you may remember, periodically “liberals” will suggest she step down so that President Obama could nominate her successor. The last time Ginsburg addressed this idea she was pretty hostile.

In her interview, Carmon asked, “What you want your successor to look like?” Ginsburg responded, “My successor will be the choice of whatever president is sitting at that time.” Hmmm. And

#4. Carmon asks, “And when the time comes, what would you like to be remembered for?” Justice Ginsburg answered

Someone who used whatever talent she had, to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has.

But in the abortion context, Ginsburg did not help repair tears. Just the opposite. In her work at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, she helped pave the way for Roe and Doe which are more controversial today than they were in 1973.

In her many years on the bench, Ginsburg has helped delay the day when the deep gash in our hearts and our Constitution is mended.

You can read the entire interview here.

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