Judicial Comments on Roe v. Wade


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been critical of Roe, saying “Women were lobbying around [the abortion] issue.  The Supreme Court stopped all that by deeming every law – even the most liberal – as unconstitutional.  That seemed to me not the way courts general work.  Roe v. Wade ventured too far in the change it ordered and presented an incomplete justification for its action.”


…the fetus…never enjoyed his ‘day in court.’  The Supreme Court had every opportunity to hear arguments [that] the fetus was a ‘constitutional person’ [whose life was therefore protected].  However, the Court chose not to take advantage of this occasion.”  – John D. Gorby, J.D.


I have difficulty in concluding, as the Court does, that the right of ‘privacy’ is involved in this case.  … The fact that a majority of the States, reflecting after all the majority sentiment in those States, have had restrictions on abortions for at least a century seems to me as strong an indication there is that the asserted right to an abortion is not ‘so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.’ … To reach its result, the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment, a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafter of the Amendment.” – Justice William Rehnquist


“With all due respect, I dissent. I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment.  The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.” … “The Court apparently values the convenience of the pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life or potential life that she carries. Whether or not I might agree with that marshaling of values, I can in no event join the Court’s judgment because I find no constitutional warrant for imposing such an order of priorities on the people and legislatures of the States.”  – Justice Byron White


“There is a poignant aspect to today’s opinion [upholding Roe v. Wade]. Its length, and what might be called its epic tone, suggest that its authors believe they are bringing to an end a troublesome era in the history of our Nation, and of our Court. Quite to the contrary, by foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish. We should get out of this area, where we have no right to be, and where we do neither ourselves nor the country any good by remaining.” —Justice Antonin Scalia (dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992)


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