During last night’s vice presidential candidates’ debate, Paul Ryan said something in reference to women’s reproductive rights and Roe vs. Wade that gave us a glimpse into his soul:
We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination.
The bloggers at Crooks & Liars picked up on that statement, of course, but their take-away is somewhat different from mine. Here’s what they heard:
Got that? Ryan doesn’t believe that the United States Supreme Court is a legitimate institution which shares powers with the Congress and the Executive.
Paul Ryan does not believe the Supreme Court is a legitimate arbiter of questions of law. He said that.
If people remember nothing else, they should remember this: Paul Ryan does not believe in the legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court. That applies to women’s health and everything else he disagrees with. When he doesn’t like the ruling, it’s illegitimate.
Okay, I heard that too, but that’s pretty much what politicians always say when they disagree with a Supreme Court ruling. Here’s what sends chills up and down my spine: Ryan and the right in general believe basic rights should be subject to majority vote. If the majority, through its elected representatives, decides women should not have reproductive and abortion rights, too bad for women.
The whole point of basic rights, under our Constitution, is that they are not subject to vote or majority rule. That’s why Supreme Court rulings can’t be overturned by Congress, to protect those rights from overzealous majorities and their representatives.
If Ryan thinks it’s okay for Congress to overturn Roe vs. Wade and take away women’s reproductive rights, then it’s okay for Congress to overturn Brown vs. Board of Education and re-segregate our schools. Then it’s okay for Congress to let states decide who can and can’t vote. Then … if you’re with Ryan and you’re thinking “so what’s the problem?” … it’s okay for Congress to take away our guns.
This is really basic stuff. Ryan and company share an alien, un-American understanding of rights. This is why we have to keep fighting.
© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.