Overturning Roe v. Wade Is a Win for Federalism – and the Constitution

The Cato Institute has released its latest edition of “Freedom in The 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom,” and it reveals that a spectrum of liberty, from libertarian(ish) to statist, is found across the fruited plains of this country. The freest states are New Hampshire, Florida, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Nevada. At the bottom, unsurprisingly, are New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and California. This report card measures personal freedom, fiscal policy, and the burden of regulation.

Never was the Constitution meant to create a national, centralized mega-state where one supreme authority decides important, personal matters like abortion (or drug use, or retirement, or health care, for that matter).
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For better or worse, what Cato’s index shows is that despite decades of centralization, a great deal of diversity is still found across this large and populous country. And that is exactly how it should be. A lot of people, even many who ought to know better, like to say that “nobody cares about the Constitution anymore,” but clearly the Constitution gets the last laugh. Enough federalism, and state sovereignty, remains so that many different political environments exist for our 330,000,000 people.

These differences are particularly meaningful in light of the recent leak of a draft Supreme Court ruling that likely spells doom for the 1973 landmark case of Roe V. Wade, which injected the federal government into the abortion arena. In response, leftists are outraged, and employing incendiary rhetoric. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) literally threw a hissy fit, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) offered a thinly veiled threat by suggesting that “public sentiment” can be rallied “to improve” the decision. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot ominously issued a “call to arms.” Protests have become violent and threatening enough that Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin has the state police guarding justice’s homes. Justice Samuel Alito has been moved to an “undisclosed location.”

President Biden took a novel approach to these threats, sending out White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki to claim that the federal government doesn’t have an opinion on the protests – despite a federal law that forbids the harassment of judges. Pro-abortion groups are disrupting church services, and an anti-abortion organization in Wisconsin, Family Action, had its office firebombed. Graffiti left on the wall reads, “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either.” Responding to the attack, a reporter named Caroline Reilly wrote approvingly, “more of this.” Brian Fallon, press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, hailed the Supreme Court leaker as “brave” because his actions might “cause the Court to reconsider.” Democrats have been howling ad nauseum about “insurrectionists” ever since January 6, 2021, yet praising a breach in the integrity of Supreme Court proceedings and inciting mobs to threaten justices are just expressions of “passion.” Meanwhile, the FBI and Homeland Security officials are still hyperventilating about the “far right.”

After the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama told then-House GOP whip Eric Cantor, “elections have consequences,” and he was right. But it was Donald Trump whose election seems to be of most consequence, because without his three (!) nominees to the Supreme Court, Roe would very likely go unchanged. Democrats are acting as if the world has come to an end, raising the specter of coat-hanger abortions and paranoid (and tired) imagery from The Handmaid’s Tale, while conveniently forgetting that even the left-leaning Ruth Gader Ginsburg thought Roe was bad precedent. Senator Joe Biden said in 1974 that he “didn’t like” the ruling, and in 1982, he even supported an anti-abortion constitutional amendment that the National Abortion Rights Action League called “the most devastating attack yet on abortion rights.”

Interestingly, the amendment Biden supported would have returned the issue to the states – which is precisely what overturning Roe v. Wade will do, and exactly how it should be handled. Regardless of where one stands on the issue of abortion, it is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. The federal government has no role to play in the matter, for good or bad, but that concept is lost on most Democrat lawmakers. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is racing to “codify” Roe through federal statute, but he won’t get the votes. It will be fun to watch him squirm, however, when a future Republican majority takes up the question of abortion. Rest assured, he will suddenly become a “neo-Confederate” – the pejorative label leftists ignorantly apply to supporters of federalism.

The preamble to the Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Never was this meant to create a national, centralized mega-state where one supreme authority decides important, personal matters like abortion (or drug use, or retirement, or health care, for that matter). The Framers wanted these handled at the state level, or by the people themselves – something even President Biden once understood.

**By Scott McPherson