Monday, October 17, 2005

Miers Believes In Right to Privacy

Fox News is reporting that it has been told by Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers told him that she believes the U.S. Constitution embodies a right to privacy. She further advised Senator Specter that she believes the Supreme Court correctly decided Griswold v. Connecticut, the famous 1965 decision which struck down a Connecticut statute prohibiting the use of contraceptives as a form of birth control, or providing medical advice for the use thereof. The Court found the Bill of Rights to include a right to privacy that extended to marital affairs.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) had earlier told Fox News that he had reservations about Miers because she had declined to discuss Griswold with him, or her views in general on the right to privacy.

Conservative legal scholars have decried Griswold as a glaring example of judicial activism that set the stage for later opinions expanding the right to privacy, such as Roe v. Wade (providing a right to abortion) and Lawrence v. Kansas (nullifying anti-sodomy laws). It is been haled as a landmark decision by civil libertarians.

If Miers accepts a constitutional right to privacy and the Griswold decision, it is difficult to believe she would ever join the Court’s conservative bloc led by Justice Antonin Scalia in voting to overturn Roe v. Wade. It also provides hope to gay civil rights advocates that she will uphold challenges to Lawrence, Roemer (striking down a Colorado law that prevented local governments from enacting local laws banning discrimination against gays and lesbians) and other landmark gay civil rights cases.

This news is not likely to sit well with the Christian right, which had recently been buoyed by reports that friends of hers had told several leaders in the religious right that they believed she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Advance Indiana would hasten to add that Chief Justice John Roberts told senators he believed in a right to privacy as well during his recent confirmation hearing, despite a general antipathy he had expressed in his legal writings about the "so-called" right during his years working in the Reagan administration. Roberts' comments on Griswold, however, could be interpreted to mean that he would limit its holding to a “marital right to privacy.”

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