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The Right to Life: The 'Something Back' of the U.S. Constitution

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
October 14th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The right to life is in our Constitution.  There is no right to an abortion in our Constitution.  Look at our Constitution, look at every jot and tittle of it, look even at its penumbras and emanations of it, and you will not find a right to an abortion. 

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - The right to life is in our Constitution.  There is no right to an abortion in our Constitution.  Look at our Constitution, look at every jot and tittle of it, look even at its penumbras and emanations of it, and you will not find a right to an abortion. 

Nowhere.

But, you might object, the majority of the justices on the United States Supreme Court say it's there.  But, you are probably thinking to yourself, Roe v. Wade says it's there.  But, you might also note, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its commitment to Roe v. Wade in 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

All those things may be true, but I say nevertheless: the right to life is in our Constitution. There is no right to an abortion in our Constitution.

Roe v. Wade and its progeny are built upon a dishonest jurisprudence, one not based upon the Constitutional text in any honest way.

It is Roe v. Wade that is unconstitutional because it has no real basis in the Constitution.

Now, I am a lawyer.  I have sworn without any mental reservation to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  And the Constitution which I swore to uphold does not recognize Roe v. Wade.

Let me explain why with a personal story.

In my third year of law school, I had to apply with the Texas Board of Law Examiners for a law license.  In the form that I was required to fill out there was a section that asked whether I supported, without any mental reservation, the Constitution of the United States.
 
I wrote down yes, but I added "insofar as the law of God allows."  My concern was that I was not about to support Roe v. Wade (and also Griswold v. Connecticut, but that's a different issue) because the Constitution of the United States does not contain the right to abortion.  I was not about to swear that I supported the notion that our Constitution contains a right to abortion.

The Board of Law Examiners was not particularly pleased at my answer, and it summoned me to Austin to determine whether I was "morally fit" to practice law since I would only swear to uphold the Constitution "insofar as the law of God" allows.

That's something, isn't it?  To be considered possibly "morally unfit" because you believe that our Nation, and the Constitution which frames it, is "under God."

Nevertheless, I went before that Committee to defend myself.  And I explained that I did not think that the Constitution contained a right to abortion, and that I could not swear to uphold the Constitution if that Constitution contained a right to abortion.

And you know what? 

The Committee decided after all that I was morally fit to practice law, that I did not have to swear that the Constitution contains within it a right to abortion, so the Constitution that I swore to uphold, and I still swear to uphold, does not contain a right to abortion.

But really, what happened to me before that Committee of the Board of Law Examiners is a symbol of what has happened to our Constitution and our Nation.

When your loyalty is questioned because you are pro-life, when your loyalty to the Constitution is questioned because you believe that our laws--including our Constitution--must be understood as being "under God," something of great significance has happened.

What is it that has happened?

The best way to understand this issue is to borrow an image from Abraham Lincoln.  It is found in a famous "Fragment" of his writings.

During the civil war, Abraham Lincoln was reflecting upon Proverbs 25:11. Proverbs 25:11 reads:  "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting [or frame] of silver."

Reflecting on this proverb, Lincoln wrote that there is "something back" of the Constitution and our Nation.  There is something more, something that supports the Constitution.

This "something back" of the Constitution is what gave spirit to, which informed the ordered liberty behind the Constitution. 

That "something back" of the Constitution, and not necessarily the Constitution itself, is what contributed to our "great prosperity."

This "something back" of the Constitution and our Nation is something living, as it can be found "entwining itself more closely about the human heart" of Americans.

This "something back" is the "philosophical cause" of our Constitution and our Nation.

For Lincoln, that "something back" of the Constitution was expressed in the Declaration of Independence. 

The Declaration of Independence, one should never forget, declares that we are all created equal. 

It declares that we are "endowed by [our] Creator with inherent and inalienable rights."

It declares that "among these" rights is, not the right to abortion, but rather the right to "Life"

It declares that governments are "instituted among men," not to secure the right to an abortion, but rather "to secure" the right to "Life."

It declares most fundamentally that we are subject to, and in fact derive the very basis of our government from, "the laws of nature and of nature's God."

For Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence contained within it the "something back" of our Constitution.  It was the "word, 'fitly spoken,' which has proved an "apple of gold" to us." 

The Constitution and the Union are a "picture of silver, subsequently framed around" the "apple of gold" of the Declaration.

"The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn, and preserve it.  The picture was made for the apple--not the apple for the picture," said Lincoln.

What this means is that the Constitution is made, not to conceal or destroy the right to Life, but to adorn and preserve it.

That "something back" of the Constitution is a "culture of life," a culture of life that leads to a culture of liberty, that leads to a culture for the pursuit of happiness.

And that's why Roe v. Wade is a lie and is not part of our Constitution because it conceals and destroys the right to life, it does not adorn and preserve the right to life.  It blurs and breaks the "golden apple."

Roe v. Wade is directly inimical to the Declaration of Independence's right to life. 

I am unapologetic about it:  It is simply un-American, unpatriotic to allow the slaughter under color of right of 1.5 million of the weakest Americans annually, and what is more, to call it part of our Constitution.

It's un-American, frankly it's downright criminal and immoral, to take what used to be felony crimes--mala in se--and make them Constitutional rights.

It is a political blasphemy.

What it does is to take the frame of silver and make it into a frame of pewter.

What it does is take the apple of gold and replace with pyrite, with fool's gold.

Roe v. Wade is directly set against the "something back" of the Constitution. 

Now Lincoln gave us, that is all Americans who want to be true to their founding traditions, our marching orders:  "So let us act," Lincoln said, "that neither picture or apple, shall ever be blurred, or broken."

Let us then act, so that neither the Constitution nor our Declaration be blurred or broken. 

Let us act so that the right to life in our Constitution and in our Declaration is not blurred or broken, but is extended to all including those Americans who are most defenseless and most disenfranchised, those Americans who happen to be in the womb of their mothers.

Let us act to recapture the Constitution so that it is a frame of silver.

Let us act to recapture a political philosophy and a jurisprudence based upon the apple of gold.
That gold standard is a political philosophy based upon the natural law, the law of "Nature and Nature's God,"

Let us act to recapture this "something back" of our Constitution.

Liberal law professors and liberal justices have stolen both the silver frame and apple of gold from us.

Every one of our founding fathers was steeped in the "something back" of the Constitution, the natural law. 

Every one of our founding fathers that was a lawyer had read Blackstone's Commentaries on the laws, who said: "Good and wise men, in all ages . . . have supposed, that the deity . . . has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is, indispensably, obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever."

"This is what is called the law of nature, which, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is, of course superior in obligation to any other.  It is binding over all the globe, in all countries at all times.  No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid, derive all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original."

This is the apple of gold.

Every one of our founding fathers was familiar with books about the natural law: books by Hooker, Grotius, Hutcheson, Pufendorf, Burlamaqui, Vattel. The fact that most of us, even lawyers, don't even know who Hooker, Grotius, Hutcheson, Pufendorf, Burlmaqui, and Vattel are shows how our law schools have failed us.

How can we understand the "something back" of the Constitution when we don't know the minds of our fathers?

Instead we read the liberal political philosophy of John Rawls or Richard Rorty in our law schools, a political philosophy where there is no such things as the "something back" of the Constitution.

Now, to teach our children, ourselves, and our judges about this "something back" of our Constitution is probably something beyond the political process.  It is the work of inculturation, perhaps even evangelization, but not politics.

But what's not beyond the political process is to fix the frame, to make sure that it is not of pewter, but that it is once again of silver.

And the way to do that is to put in Supreme Court justices who are "strict constructionists," or "textualists," or "originalists."  Men like Justice Scalia.  Men like Justice Thomas.

For strict constructionists, textualists, or originalists, the Constitutional analysis regarding the right to abortion is easy.  As Justice Antonin Scalia put it: the decision regarding abortion is, from the perspective of the U.S. Constitution, is "absolutely easy," a "no brainer."

Why is it a "no brainer"?

Why because of the first thing I said: the right to life is in our Constitution.  There is no right to an abortion in our Constitution. 

(This is an adaptation of a speech given at the American Freedom Rally in Corpus Christi, Texas.)

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Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

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