Pro-Life Lawmakers Take Exception With Ex-Justice O’Connor on Terri Schiavo

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 19, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Lawmakers Take Exception With Ex-Justice O’Connor on Terri Schiavo Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 19, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Pro-life lawmakers who came under attack from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor over their criticism of Supreme Court decisions on abortion and Terri Schiavo are responding. They say she takes the wrong view that the high court should be insulated from a public upset with its decisions.

Last week, O’Connor used a speech at Georgetown University to attack pro-life lawmakers who sided with Terri Schiavo’s parents in their efforts to prevent their daughter’s euthanasia death. She claimed a Congressional effort to have federal courts review the case was a first step towards a dictatorship.

"We must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary," she said of the pro-Terri Schiavo lawmakers.

"It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings," O’Connor said, pointing to Communist countries and autocracies around the world.

The pro-life lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn and Rep Tom DeLay, both Texas Republicans, took exception with her comments.

"That’s a remarkable thing for a former justice on the Supreme Court to say," Cornyn told the Dallas Morning News, calling O’Connor’s comments "hyperbole."

"There’s no danger of dictatorship while people feel free to express their views, and it’s a ridiculous suggestion," he added. "Obviously she’s irritated, and maybe she feels somewhat liberated now that she’s no longer on the bench."

DeLay told the Dallas newspaper he thinks some judges wrongly believe the final decision on political matters ought to wrest with the courts, when the Constitution authorizes checks and balances.

"I think she ought to read the Constitution again," he said. "We have an authority. They are not an ivory tower over there. All wisdom does not reside in nine people with black robes."

O’Connor, who backs abortion, announced her retirement last year and was recently replaced by federal appeals court judge Samuel Alito, who pro-life advocates hope will be more open to upholding laws that protect the right to life.