Governor Perry, the 10th Amendment, and the 14th

Published Date: July 30, 2011 | Topics: Constitutional Issues, Politics and Current Affairs

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By Robert George

On Friday, it was reported that Texas governor (and possible presidential candidate) Rick Perry had expressed the view that if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, the legality of abortion would have to be decided at the state level. “You either have to believe in the 10th Amendment or you don’t,” Perry was quoted as saying, evidently denying the authority of the federal government to legislate in the defense of unborn human life.

I offered criticism of Governor Perry on this matter in a statement quoted in a press release by the Susan B. Anthony List, a Washington, D.C. based pro-life organization:

“It is important for Governor Perry and for all Americans to recognize the responsibility of the national government under Section 5 of the 14th Amendment to ensure that the guarantees of Section 1 of that Amendment are honored by all 50 states.  Those guarantees include the following: ‘nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ As a matter of indisputable scientific fact, the child in the womb is a living human being. As a matter of moral truth, deeply embedded in our legal and constitutional traditions, all human beings are persons. Thus, by the clearest logical implication, the national government is empowered and obligated by our Constitution to ensure that unborn human persons are equally protected in their most fundamental right—the right to life.  Because this is an expressly delegated power, there is no 10th Amendment basis for denying or relieving the national government of its responsibilities, along with the states, to protect the child in the womb.”

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