Albert: Confirm Alito to help stop ‘judicial madness’
By Allen Palmeri
December 13, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – A flurry of recent court activity involving various abortion cases in Missouri can be seen as placing an extreme amount of importance on the upcoming U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito, according to the chairman of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) Christian Life Commission (CLC).
Rodney Albert said rulings involving Missouri’s partial birth abortion ban, 24-hour wait law, and state prisoner abortion rights, along with pending intervention by the Missouri Supreme Court on two other cases, basically amount to “judicial madness” due to the “utter insanity” of Roe v. Wade , the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand.
The Senate Judiciary Committee begins confirmation hearings Jan. 9 for Judge Alito.
“The common denominator in all of those cases is the utter insanity of the Roe v. Wade decision,” Albert said. “Nobody understands what the law in the United States is. The average Missourian does not, the elected legislator does not, and certainly the sitting jurist does not. Roe v. Wade is a wide-open door of judicial madness that allows our judges to dictate law from the bench. I think in all of these cases you’re seeing a lot of confusion as to whether or not this is legal. That’s why we’ve got to be a nation that is guided by the rule of law, not the rule of judges.
“The Alito confirmation is paramount in restoring judicial sanity in this country. One would hope, based on Judge Alito’s solid judicial history that he would maintain the course that he has set— that the United States of America will be governed by the rule of law. Because of that, Roe v. Wade, under Alito’s opinions, will be in jeopardy.”
On Nov. 28, a three-judge panel of the Eight U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Scott O. Wright that a Missouri ban on partial birth abortions was unconstitutional. The reason was that the 1999 law lacked an exception for the health of pregnant women. Because of that, Nebraska’s partial birth abortion ban was struck down 5-4 in 2000 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who cast the deciding vote, is retiring and may be replaced by Alito in 2006.
On Nov. 30, in a rare pro-life ruling by a judge who has consistently sided with Planned Parenthood, Judge Wright issued a revised preliminary injunction that indicated that part of Missouri’s law requiring a 24-hour waiting period for abortions could go into effect. The Eighth Circuit, in a Nov.16 ruling, arguably forced Judge Wright’s hand by vacating his previous order on the 2003 law, which he had been bottling up in his courtroom.
As a result, as of December and continuing on indefinitely, Missouri law requires physicians performing or inducing abortions to inform the patient of truthful, non-misleading information about the nature of the proposed procedure, including the risks, and to obtain from the patient a written statement that she received this information and that she consents to the abortion. Violation of the law is a Class A misdemeanor, meaning up to a year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.
“It is encouraging, because I believe that even the most solid liberal judges are beginning to understand that they can’t rule based on their whims or opinions but have to give decisions based on the rule of law,” Albert said.
But most rulings seem to still favor the pro-abortionists. In a case that potentially could increase abortions in Missouri, U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple certified a woman prisoner’s case against the Department of Corrections as a class-action lawsuit, saying she will represent all current and future Missouri inmates wanting abortions in seeking to overturn a state policy against helping prisoners get the procedure, the Associated Press reported.
The woman had an abortion Oct. 20, with taxpayers paying for her transportation and security expenses. Gov. Blunt, a pro-life Southern Baptist, has argued and is continuing to argue that state law prohibits taxpayer funding from being used to facilitate abortions. The woman received the abortion based on the power of an injunction that was issued by Judge Whipple and eventually left intact by the U.S. Supreme Court. Seeing the effectiveness of the Whipple-initiated action has emboldened three more Missouri inmates to request “legal” abortions by this method, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, the seven judges of the Missouri Supreme Court are facing two potentially explosive decisions on Planned Parenthood-generated litigation involving two Missouri abortion laws.
The state high court is preparing to issue a ruling on the 24-hour wait law, a case that it heard Nov. 8. The judges are also expected to hear a challenge on the newest Missouri abortion law, the civil liability/informed parental consent bill that Blunt signed into law in September. Missouri is one of 21 states that require parental consent, and the new law, sponsored by Sen. John Loudon, R-Chesterfield, is written to strengthen current statutes.
The new law stipulates that children must get parental permission before having an abortion and that a “next friend,” or adult who helps a girl petition a court, does not include another minor child or any person who has a financial interest or may potentially gain from the minor’s decision to have an abortion. A third provision of the new law, which requires abortionists to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, has already withstood a federal court challenge and is now in effect.
While some pro-life observers have viewed the Missouri Supreme Court judges as mostly liberal and potentially activist, Albert is optimistic.
“I am hopeful that the changes occurring at the U.S. Supreme Court level are sending a message to the state courts that the days of judicial activism are over,” he said.