More on the HLA getting shot down

Blog for Democracy has the response from the Chairman of the subcommittee that tabled the HLA yesterday. Its worth a read.

Dear Friends and Constituents:

I serve as chairman of the House Judiciary Sub Committee that held extensive hearings this week on the Human Life Amendment (HR 536). After two days of hearing testimony and documentary evidence from the sponsors of the bill, groups favoring and opposing it, lawyers and law professors, medical doctors and scientists, and citizens across the political spectrum, my sub committee voted to table the amendment, effectively stopping it for this legislative session.

No vote has elicited so much controversy since my election four years ago. Therefore, it is important for me to explain to you my reasoning for recommending that the matter be tabled and defeated this year in committee.

Overturning Roe v. Wade?

All that glitters is not gold . . . .

The Human Life Amendment (“HLA”) in its original form stated the following:

Paragraph XXIX. Paramount right to life. (a) The rights of every person shall be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life. The right to life is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person.

(b) With respect to the fundamental and inalienable rights of all persons guaranteed in this Constitution, the word ‘person’ applies to all human beings, irrespective of age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency, including unborn children at every state of their biological development, including fertilization.

Proponents of HLA believe that it would lead to overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision which recognized a federal constitutional right to privacy that encompassed abortion. That belief, however, is dubious at best.

While Georgia Right to Life favored the measure, many mainstream Pro Life organizations did not. The Georgia Catholic Archbishops jointly declared:

After a period of lengthy research and consultation with experts in constitutional law as applied to abortion, the bishops came to the disappointing conclusion that the proposal cannot achieve its stated legal goal of providing a direct challenge to the central holding of Roe v. Wade.

Clarke D. Forsythe, President of Americans United for Life, the nation’s oldest secular Pro Life organization, wrote:

Even if a specific state HLA sparked a test case, this Court would most likely never hear the case. The USSC has virtually complete discretion over its cases; it could easily refuse to review any case involving a state HLA. Proponents of state HLAs frequently argue that an HLA is an effective vehicle to present medical evidence that human life begins at conception (evidence that was not available in 1973 when Roe was decided) and that it is this evidence that will cause the USSC to hear the case and, ultimately, lead to Roe be overturned. However, the Court has refused at least nine times over the past 15 years to hear a case that directly challenged Roe using this same evidence; most recently on October 1, 2007, when the Court refused to hear a case on appeal from the New Jersey Supreme Court, Acuna v. Turkish.

James Bopp, Jr., national counsel for the National Right to Life wrote:

The Supreme Court’s current makeup assures that a declared federal constitutional right to abortion remains secure for the present. This means that now is not the time to pass state constitutional amendments or bills banning abortion because (1) such provisions will be quickly struck down by a federal district court, (2) that decision will be affirmed by an appellate court, (3) the Supreme Court will not grant review of the decision, and (4) the pro-abortion attorneys who brought the legal challenge will collect statutory attorneys fees from the state that enacted the provision in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Their conclusions were echoed in testimony before our sub committee from law professors from each of the accredited law schools in Georgia who testified that the Human Life Amendment will have no impact on Roe v. Wade and, instead, will itself likely be struck down.

The problem is simple. The federal constitution takes precedence in this country over state constitutions and Roe v. Wade is based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the federal constitution. In other words, if you want to overturn Roe v. Wade by constitutional action, you need to amend the U.S. Constitution and not our state constitution.

The Effect of the Human Life Amendment on Georgia Law

An attorney on behalf of the Georgia Right to Life eloquently and forthrightly acknowledged in the final day of the committee hearings that the purpose of HLA is to end all abortions in Georgia. This included abortions for rape, incest or most other reasons except for the life of the woman. I do not believe that most of our state’s citizens – including many of us who have deep moral concerns about abortion — are prepared to go that far in mandating state action on the subject.

Moreover, because of its broad sweeping language, HLA would also have an effect on many other aspects of our laws which effect our lives including issues concerning in vitro fertilization, certain forms of contraception, wrongful death and civil tort law, criminal law, child abuse and neglect statutes, end of life decision making, etc.

At the present time, these issues are largely decided by our state legislature. If HLA passed, however, that responsibility would largely pass to the judiciary. Such an enormous shift in power is dangerous. The role of a judge in his or her black robe is to deliver edicts from on high. The role of the legislator is quite different. Our job includes bringing the wisdom of our community to the decision making process. By doing so, we collectively seek to reflect the values and opinions of our state in the legislation that we pass.

This process isn’t perfect and often we make mistakes. That is why I like to point out that laws are written on paper for a reason – we can always tear them up and start again. Not so, however, with constitutional amendments like HLA. The constitution is chiseled in stone and mistakes are far more difficult to rectify.

Conclusion

Throughout this process I was asked repeatedly by advocates of HLA to lay aside my misgivings about this proposal and vote it out of committee for others to decide on it. That is not how I interpret my role as a legislator. Edmund Burke, the great 18th century Member of Parliament and philosopher once wrote the following about the duties of representative:

Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

As I stated earlier, it is my responsibility as a legislator to bring the wisdom of my community to the capitol but I also owe my constituents – and my fellow legislators — my best judgment and the willingness to assert it. To do otherwise, would be to betray my duties to them.

I recognize and appreciate the well meaning purpose of HLA and agree that we must foster a culture of life in our society. This proposal, however, would not have accomplished its purpose and would have resulted in far too many unintended consequences to permit it to go forward. For those reasons, I opposed it.

23 comments

  1. profg says:

    Ah yes, Representative Edward Lindsey, the William Wilberforce of the Georgia Legislature.

    NOT.

    This is our abolitionist leadership? “I do not believe that most of our state’s citizens – including many of us who have deep moral concerns about abortion – are prepared to go that far in mandating state action on the subject.” Yes, we wouldn’t want to endanger the slave trade in our great state. Too much at stake.

    God help us.

  2. profg says:

    I’m ranting about the obvious. Study history, especially the history of opposition to slavery, and you’ll see just where our so-called “pro-life” leadership is, and what they have gotten us — 35 years of dead babies.

    They want to keep doing the same thing over and over, and expect different results. They are, in a nutshell, insane. Pun intended.

  3. Dan Becker says:

    Here is the great irony . . . the language of the GA Human Life Amendment was crafted in 1975 by the same James Bopp of National Right to Life, that spoke against the Resolution here in Georgia. In 1975 Sen. James Buckley sponsored a HLA with this same language supplied by National Right to Life, ” With respect to the right to life, the word person as used in this article refers . . . to all human beings irrespective of age, health, function or condition of dependency, including their unborn offspring at every stage of their biological development.”

    http://www.nchla.org/datasource/idocuments/HLAmajortexts.pdf

    The only reason Bopp and NRLC opposed the GA HLA bill was NOT on the basis of a flaw in its composition, but due to a difference of opinion on how Justice Kennedy would rule on an issue of states finding a more expansive right for its own citizens than is even found in the Federal Constitution.

    States may RAISE the bar, they just can’t lower it below the standard set in the Federal Constitution. The Supreme Ct has upheld this fact since 1980.

    See Prunyard Shopping Ctr. V Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 81 (1980) ( “affirming “the authority of the State to exercise its police power [and] its sovereign right to adopt in its own Constitution individual liberties more expansive that those conferred by the Federal Constitution”). And the right to life is the most basic and fundamental right, since death forecloses “the right to have rights.” See Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 290 (1972) (Brennan, J., concurring).

  4. Doug Deal says:

    Rick,

    Obviously, he wants to keep abortion legal as long as possible in every state in the union. Why else would you make people against abortion seem like crazies that no one will ever elect. Pretty clever profg!

  5. Bill Simon says:

    ProfG,

    So, as I read more and more about your opinion, I’m getting the belief that rather than the “conservative” you try to project you are, you really are just a theocrat who wishes to pass laws that jibe with your religious belief.

    And…when they pass, have the financial resources of the State of Georgia used to defend that law…even when it would likely get overturned at the USSC level.

    Stop lying. It is clear you believe this country should throw-out its Constitution, and re-write it in terms of your religious beliefs.

    I’ll be happy to pawn whatever furniture I need to to raise the money to send you to Iran so you can live in a theocracy. Let me know when your bags are packed.

  6. Jace Walden says:

    35 years of dead babies.

    It’s a damn shame isn’t it, profg?

    If we had started aborting sooner, we may have been able to abort Osama Bin Laden, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin.

    Look…quite frankly, I’m tired of this bullshit. I settled this debate TWO Weeks ago. I’m not going to go through the explanation again, but I will give you the FINAL word on the matter:

    We need to increase the number of abortions worldwide to protect the innocent from terror attacks.

  7. profg says:

    Ah yes, the Bill Simon straw man. I’m an abolitionist, so despite the fact that not once have I brought in any religious argumentation to this discussion, I must be a “theocrat” who wants to re-write the basic law of the land in terms of my religious beliefs.

    Like, you know, all those “theocrats” in the Clapham Sect. And James Ramsay. And Charles Middleton. And Thomas Clarkson. And Joshua Reynolds. And William Windham. And James Boswell. And Isaac Hawkins Browne. And William Grenville. And William Pitt. And William Dolben. And Charles James Fox. And Charles Grey. And Thomas Fowell Buxton. And Elizabeth Heyrick, Mary Lloyd, Jane Smeal, Elizabeth Pease, and Anne Knight.

    Well said Bill.

  8. Bill Simon says:

    Those Jews you talked abot in the other thread ALL had names, Profg.

    Perhaps that IS the difference. There is an identity associated with existing “people.” Or, those in the womb in which their GENDER is at least known so the mother or parents knows what name they want to attach to their child when he/she is born.

    Perhaps I’ve just discovered the “killer-point” to your bemoaning about what is a human being, and what deserves a chance to live.

    NAME them, ProfG. Give me 100 names of the aborted fetuses. First Name AND Last Name.

    NAMES (even a grunting noise from a deep-in-theAmazon-jungle tribe of humans to communciate with each other) are what helps PEOPLE determine who is human and who is not.

    And, NO, Profg, in answet to your impedning ridiculous “what-if” question about “Well, Bill, what IF you bang your head on the ground and lose your memory and don’tknow your name? Can we legally kill you then?”

    No, you can’t, Profg. Don’t be so stupid.

  9. bowersville says:

    Yad vashem Simple Simon. Have you been there, I have and I heard the names and saw the cattle car over the abyss. I witnessed the descendant’s of the holocaust fall to their knees. So as far as I’m concerned F off!

  10. Bill Simon says:

    Bowersville,

    Apparently you’re either smoking dope, crack, or just plain drunk.

    Bill Greene (ProfG) was the one who brought-up the subject of the Jews in the 1930s-1940s in another thread. I was tying it in here.

    Don’t tell me to F-off, B*tch. You’re too stupid even when you’re sober.

  11. bowersville says:

    I know what ProfG said and I don’t agree with him. In fact I don’t like it at all.

    I’m closer to your views than his. If they put an amendment for us to vote on, they need to include all options. I apologize. I’m just provoking and stirring you up.

  12. bowersville says:

    Sorry Slick Willy Simon, been away for a moment of life instead of with a blow up doll like you. Don’t tell me to F off B*tch? You’re sh***ing me right?

    You are the only one that is too stupid, after all it was your idiot felonious comment that had to be audited, and you weren’t even drunk were you?

  13. Bill Simon says:

    BVille,

    “You are the only one that is too stupid, after all it was your idiot felonious comment that had to be audited, and you weren’t even drunk were you?”

    “Felonious comment?” WTF?

    Go back to your bottle, B’ville.

  14. profg says:

    Bill – do you seriously need one hundred names brought to you before you start believing that a single person has been murdered in a holocaust?

    Do you yourself know, off the top of your head, one hundred names of Jews that were murdered under the Nazis, after the Nazis declared through the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 that they were “non-persons”? Do you know one hundred names of any Gypsies, at least 4000 of whom were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, after the Nuremberg Laws were amended in 1937 to also classify them as “non-persons”?

    Native Americans were once declared to be non-persons by the U.S. Government. In the early 1900s, women were not considered persons. In Canada, it took the historical Person’s Case to have women awarded the right to be considered persons under the law, meaning they were no longer just property. In the U.S., blacks had their personhood revoked in the late 1800’s. That law allowed slave owners to kill their slaves, as the rights of life, liberty, and freedom do not extend to non-persons. Are we going to have to start naming 100 names of each of those groups of persons so that the great Bill Simon can declare that yes, a person was actually killed?

    Luckily, all these groups are now considered, rightfully so, to be persons. Hence, they all have the rights and freedoms that persons are allowed; we cannot kill Indians, women, blacks, Jews or Gypsies for any reason. However, we can kill unborn babies. For any reason. At any time. As long as we have the mother’s “permission”.

    You still need names, Bill? OK, I guess we can start with a few, and if you still need more, we can start adding to the list, just for you:

    * Ximenia Renaerts
    * Ana Rosa Rodriguez
    * Amy Charlton
    * Christelle Morrison
    * Gianna Jessen
    * Heidi Huffman
    * Sarah Smith
    * Juan Diego
    * Susan Rachel
    * John Paul
    * Chandra Marie
    * Mary Esther
    * Paul Michael
    * Lurana Terrel
    * Kirk Scott
    * Stephen Daniel
    * Elizabeth Ann
    * Margaret Mary

    Yes, Bill, those are all real names, of real aborted babies.

    Do you still need a full hundred?

    30,000 aborted babies are buried in a cemetery in the Huê diocese in Vietnam, and every single one of them has a name. Since it was set up in 1992, volunteers who bring the babies in for burial carry a notebook with them to list the names given to the victims. Until 2006, one notebook per year was sufficient, but at least three were needed for 2006, given the growing number of abortions in that increasingly materialistic nation.

    None of this will convince you of anything, Bill. I recognize that. But I can’t remain silent when you continue to bring up asinine point after asinine point, and think that because no one answers your foolishness with a rational answer (because we know that to be foolish as well, given who you are and what you do) you “must be right” and so you “win.”

    You don’t “win” anything, Bill. You lose. And I have great pity for you, and your foul mouth, and your twisted and petty little mind. I really do. You are a sad person…

    But you are a person, and worthy of life. And you always have been.

  15. SkylerA says:

    Whoever is comparing Roe V. Wade and its “constitutionality” to slavery needs to study slavery, and the evolution of it.

    The two are not remotely related.

    Furthermore,

    Martin Luther King Jr was a supporter of Planned Parenthood, and recieved the Margaret Sanger award in 1966 saying…

    “Words are inadequate for me to say how honored I was to be the recipient of the Margaret Sanger Award. This award will remain among my most cherished possessions. While I cannot claim to be worthy of such a signal honor, I can assure you that I accept it with deep humility and sincere gratitude. Such a wonderful expression of support is of inestimable value for the continuance of my humble efforts.”

    So to the “Right to Life” folks, and to the various African American leaders that kept bringing up MLK’s opposition to a Womans Right to Choose in the Committee hearings needs to seriously read the facts, and ignore the flat out lies of these “Right to Life” groups.

    They should seek to hire lawyers that read the law, instead of ones that try to make it up as they go.

  16. Bill Simon says:

    Lies? From the Right to Life groups? LIES?

    Oh my….this is SO unexpected.

    This means Bill Greene could ACTUALLY be chock-full of manure.

    (Okay…going back to the “suspension” phase of my contribution to this blog.)

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