Sunday, January 8, 2012

Right To Privacy & States Rights' Hypocritical Hypotheticals

The last two Republican debates were just too much for me to try and live-blog. Saturday evening was better spent on some family activities. And this morning, Sunday, I just couldn't spoil the quiet Sabbath with more ugliness. I was working on some family history issues instead.

Speaking of family, I did catch a brief exchange in last night's debate. George Stephanopolous was questioning Romney on a hypothetical on states rights theories as to whether states could prohibit birth control. Romney appeared a little befuddled and parried as best he could deflecting the question somewhat indignantly because he said no state would ever do such.

Well, maybe not so hypothetical as the State of Mississippi recently considered a ballot issue on declaring legal personhood at conception. Had that passed, many forms of birth control would have been potentially banned by the State of Mississippi.

Stephanopolous pushed the question further to remind Romney of the historical context, certainly not hypothetical, that the US Supreme Court, not that long ago in 1965, ruled that there was a Right of Privacy recognized in the Constitution. The case was Griswold v. Connecticut, in which a married couple successfully challenged state laws against contraception.

Ron Paul gets bonus points because he understood that a Right of Privacy comes from the principles of the Fourth Amendment in that the government can't unreasonably search and seize private "persons, houses, papers, and effects" which would certainly encompass a married couple's privacy in how they may or may not use contraceptives. And I could almost admire Romney in deflecting a hypothetical as I dislike them so much myself. I just found Romney a little disingenuous.

Griswold v. Connecticut is a rather important case in the ongoing culture wars. No one, not even Romney, disputes the result. Many strict-constructionists on the right philosophically dispute the Right of Privacy when applied to other things, which is, in actual fact, not directly written in the Constitution. Law-trained Romney had to be schooled on this by Dr. Paul, strict constructionist he may be, nevertheless is able to recognize a Right of Privacy when he sees one in the penumbras.

Romney is also smart enough, but only by half, to stay out of troubled waters in that Roe v. Wade, is a direct offspring of Griswold v. Connecticut. Even I knew that before I went to Law School. But of course, Romney jumped right on that saying that Roe v. Wade should be overturned directly contrary to the old Romney I used to like when he was running against Ted Kennedy and even serving as Governor of Massachusetts.

Then we saw more of the candidates stumble all over themselves to promote "states' rights" at the same time they insist the federal government could and should ban all same-sex marriages. And here I am trying to stay out of the culture wars. Too bad the Republicans aren't.

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