by Steven Ertelt
September 5, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — When it came to key pro-life issues, Chief Justice William Rehnquist could always be counted on to defend the interests of those whose lives were threatened by euthanasia or abortion. Pro-life groups of all stripes are lauding the former high court leader for his strong pro-life views following his death late Friday.
"Millions of pro-life Americans mourn the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist," National Right to Life legislative director Doug Johnson said.
"He consistently voted to allow elected lawmakers to decide when and how to protect unborn human life, most recently as one of four dissenting justices who said that states should be allowed to ban partial-birth abortion," John son explained.
Rehnquist’s most famous actions in defense of life came at the beginning of the 32 year battle over abortion when he was one of only two dissenters in the Roe v. Wade decision that ushered in the abortion era.
Rehqnuist wrote that the Court’s doctrine on abortion "is far more appropriate to a legislative judgment than to a judicial one."
"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 drafters of the Amendment," Rehnquist wrote.
Father Frank Pavone, the director of Priests for Life, said Rehnquist had been a strong defender of a strict interpretation of the Constitution throughout his career.
"He strictly applied the Constitution and exercised proper restraint by supporting the right of legislatures to settle political matters rather than abuse the power of the Court by legislating his own personal beliefs," Pavone explained.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, added that Rehnquist "was a principled jurist and had shown the greatest respect for the text and history of the Constitution."
With Rehnquist’s death, the Supreme Court is divided 5 to 2 in favor of abortion. Should Chief Justice nominee John Roberts agree to overturn Roe, as he wrote should happen in legal papers he drafted for former President Bush, the court would be split 5 to 3.
Pro-life advocates then hope President Bush would nominate a pro-life justice to replace outgoing pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to bring the high court to a 5-4 split on abortion. That would put the court just once vote away from overturning the Roe decision.