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Nov 01 2012

More on Steve King, Griswold and Privacy

Rep. Steve King, the prom king of Wingnuttia High School, has again claimed that the Supreme Court’s decision in Griswold v Connecticut was wrongly decided, on the specious grounds that the court had created a new right out of thin air. He did this during an appearance at a high school in Iowa:

Prior to 1965, Connecticut law stated that married women who used “any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purposes of preventing conception” could be fined and imprisoned. The Griswold decision struck down that law, citing a constitutional “right to marital privacy,” and prevented other states from banning contraception.

King told students that he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling on that case because he believes the “right to privacy” is actually not protected in the Constitution.

“So the Supreme Court found that there is a right to privacy in the shadows of the Constitution that no one had discovered before that had sat on the bench, so they created this contrived legal argument that produced legalization of abortion on demand, without restraint,” King told the students at Ames High School on Wednesday.

He added, “I think we need to have our Supreme Court decisions on solid grounds, and I think it’s written on weak grounds, and I would be willing to say that four of the Supreme Court justices agree with me on that case.”

This argument is simply incoherent — and unnecessary. He only makes it because he’s against the later ruling in Roe v Wade, which also mentioned a right to privacy. But it is entirely possible to be against Roe without being against a general right to privacy; lots of legal scholars take exactly that position. King is throwing the privacy baby out with the abortion bathwater.

The usual argument offered by the right against Griswold is to criticize the court’s use of of the term “penumbras” in establishing a right to privacy. I think I’ll write a separate post about that subject, on which conservatives are entirely hypocritical.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    I find it surprising that he gets any public support for the notion that privacy is granted by whim, not right.

  2. 2
    Bronze Dog

    People like this should just come out and say that they want our bedrooms to be monitored by Big Brother.

  3. 3
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Bronze Dog @2:
    I think people like that already believe God is in our bedrooms watching us.
    I’m sure many people put on quite a show.

  4. 4
    baal

    I winced when I read the title. I didn’t feel better after reading the detail.

    His argument is one of them that baffles me. Let’s say you don’t have a right to privacy at all – the government would then be able to put cameras in all our homes and use software to convert our recorded lives to text etc. This is not freedom. This is prison.

    Also, we do have the 4th amendment (right to be secure in your papers). Were this interpreted with the expansive view that is granted to the freedom of speech or the 2nd amendment, we’d have opt in for data recording and banks and ISPs couldn’t sell the details of your life.

  5. 5
    Modusoperandi

    Old Teabagger sign:

    Keep government from getting in between you and your doctor!

    New Teabagger sign:

    Government in your bed is fine and warm and it spoons, sometimes!

  6. 6
    Thorne

    If there is no right of privacy then Mitt Romney has no legal grounds for NOT disclosing his tax returns, nor does King have the right to prohibit people from publishing pictures of him having sex.

    Privacy is one of the most fundamental rights of any civilized people. But then, there’s ample evidence to show that Republicans aren’t actually civilized.

  7. 7
    Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    He only makes it because he’s against the later ruling in Roe v Wade, which also mentioned a right to privacy. But it is entirely possible to be against Roe without being against a general right to privacy; lots of legal scholars take exactly that position. King is throwing the privacy baby out with the abortion bathwater.

    I think you’re giving Rep. King the benefit of doubt he hasn’t earned. In the early-2000s when conservatives sensed they’d be able to create a permanent majority, we correspondingly began to observe plans for how they were to going to criminalize abortion rights along with a surprising new upswell, a desire to create limits on contraception rights.

    In this election season we observed conservative Christians assert their religious freedom rights were being infringed upon because some Christian hierarchies wouldn’t have government protections in their efforts to restrict contraception coverage from their female employees.

    I don’t think there are scads of conservative Christians seeking to overthrow Griswold to criminalize contraception rights. I know that there are some Christian powers who seek such or would reach such a position if they first achieved the re-criminalization of abortion. Simply cause that is the nature of fundamentalism to become ever ‘purer’. I also know that conservative Christians are predominately right wing authoritarians who slavishly submit to their tribal leaders. In fact the only protest in my town recently was conservative populist abhorrence that more women would gain insurance coverage for contraception rights as the government sided with the rights of women rather than Christian organizations seeking to limit the rights of women.

  8. 8
    BobApril

    Ed, if and when you write that article, I hope you’ll also give your opinion of “emanations and penumbras.” While I have no doubt that there are conservatives who are hypocritical on the subject, it does seem like a silly way to find a right in the Constitution. Especially when you have a perfectly good Ninth Amendment handy. Like new, almost never used…

  9. 9
    Francisco Bacopa

    Text of Ninth Amendment:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    I thought religious conservatives went on and on about how our rights don’t come from the government. Yet they then turn around and say that a federal court can’t say the people have a right to do something because The Constitution, a government document, didn’t specifically say they have a right to do something.

  10. 10
    Modusoperandi

    Francisco Bacopa “Yet they then turn around and say that a federal court can’t say the people have a right to do something because The Constitution, a government document, didn’t specifically say they have a right to do something.”
    To be fair, Francisco Bacopa, it was written by Jesus.

  11. 11
    skinnercitycyclist

    If I never see the term “abortion bathwater” again it will be too soon.

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