Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Feminist Bloggers Say No To Roberts

Liza Sabater at Culture Kitchen has written an excellent letter to the members of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate that outlines why feminists, particularly feminist bloggers, do not want John Roberts as the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Go read this letter and sign it (by leaving a comment).

Here is an excerpt:

To members of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate:

We are a group of writers who are passionately committed to supporting women's basic freedom as citizens of the United States. We are appealing to you as free citizens dedicated to political growth, fairness and the spirit of Liberty guaranteed in the US Constitution.

We are not paid pundits or political operatives. We are concerned citizens who represent the diversity of the United States: women and men, straight and gay, single and married, religious and atheist, of different races, religions and ethnicities. Some of us are even parents even after having abortions. And we all blog because we have to.

We have taken to this citizen media to create communities of hope. In our blogs people rant and rave, discuss and debate to share the one thing we all agree about : The United States Constitution is about creating common ground among the many, not limiting freedom for the benefit of the few.

Yes, the battle for the Supreme Court is about the right to privacy.

Yes, the battle for the Supreme Court is about civil rights.

Yes, the battle for the Supreme Court is about state rights.

Yet what is at stake in the the reconfiguration of the Supreme Court, is the fundamental right to freedom for all peoples living under the Bill of Rights and unenumerated rights retained by the people. Roberts' has consistently opposed the interests of the people in his career. The decisions, dissents and legal documents that have been released for scrutiny point to the man's willingness to find ways to use technicalities to curtail freedom and not expand it. Although it would be easy to demonstrate this willingness through his involvement in cases dealing with reproductive rights, it is the following three cases that show a road map to what could happen to the US Constitution under a Chief Justice Roberts :

Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992)

Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton, 334 F.3d 1158 (D.C. Cir.2003), cert. denied, 124 S. Ct. 2061 (2004)

Hedgepeth v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth., 386 F.3d 1148 (D.C. Cir. 2004):

In defending a religious minority's demand to impose their religious customs on the majority (1), in attacking Congress' right to regulate commerce under national standards (2) and in stating that using the full extent of the law in cases involving minors is necessary to promote "parental awareness of commission delinquent actsÓ (3); John Roberts has advocated positions which

(1) are skewed to the ideology of religious extremists,

(2) balkanize the country into a loose mesh of little republics

(3) use a restrictive fundamentalist view to coerce a moral outcome through legal means

The extremist religious minority in this country have used the excuse of states' compelling interest in children's welfare as a reason to seek limits to the Constitution. Parenting rights are being used to impose unfettered limitations of reproductive rights on the state level. All across the country laws have been passed curtailing the movement of minors from one state to the other in search of abortions. Some states have even made it a capital offense punishable with the death penalty to aid a minor with no parental consent. This is appalling.

These laws have been passed as an affirmation of parents' right to choose in private what is best for their families. Some of us are mothers and fathers and we would most certainly want the government to uphold our rights to choose how to parent our children without intervention of the government. But laws protecting parenting rights should do no harm nor become precedents in the limiting of individual rights.

These laws impose a view of parenting that may actually be harmful to many underage women in need of an abortion. To restrict their individual rights and define them as extensions of their parents or guardians endangers not only endanger young women's lives but are an attack on the very idea of individual rights and personal freedom.

Judge Roberts' rulings can become a weapon for extremists who would impose their reproductive agendas against the will of their underage yet sexually mature daughters. It exposes young women in abusive or coercive situations to further abuse and physical danger.

We advocate Freedom.

The right to determine one's own sexual and reproductive behavior is a fundamental aspect of liberty. A woman's ability to control her reproductive options has a profound effect on her health and on every aspect of her life. It can affect her educational opportunities, her career and is the single most profound change that can occur in her life. Pregnancy is a life-altering and potentially life-threatening experience. Consider these statistics:

* The United States ranks below 20 other developed nations in the rate of maternal deaths.

* The maternal death rate has not gone down since 1982.

* The Rate of maternal deaths for black women has been three to four times that of white women since 1940.

* Complications of pregnancy include ectopic pregnancy, premature labor, hemorrhage, blood clots, high blood pressure, infection, stroke, amniotic fluid in the bloodstream, diabetes and heart disease. Poor women suffer disproportionately due to lack of prenatal care and inadequate health insurance.

* The number one cause of death in pregnant women in America is murder.

The choice to have a child must be made by an individual, without coercion from any external source or influence, if the individual is to be considered truly free. The current anti-choice movement has revealed itself repeatedly as uninterested in preventing unwanted pregnancies or reducing the number of abortions performed in this country. If this were truly their goal, they would be anxious to make "Plan B" contraceptives readily available. We know it is not an abortificant, and merely prevents pregnancy from taking place. If the goal was to protect young women's lives, they would encourage educating women about the use of condoms in preventing the spread of HIV and other venereal diseases, and the prevention of unwanted pregnancy.

Here also are the signatories to this letter: