Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stare Decisis: Latin for "Because We Said So"

I was writing another post about "situational constitutionalism" and one of the links I was going to use was Justice Scalia's scathing dissent* from the 1992 abortion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. I found myself no longer wanting to write the post because Scalia does such a marvelous job deconstructing the plurality's incoherent stare decisis argument that Casey upholds the constitutionality of Roe while it simultaneously guts everything substantive in the opinion. Re-reading it brought back memories of Con Law back at IU--and of a Scalia I admired so much more than I do now.

That said, I have three things to mention before linking to the opinion:

First, I am personally "pro-choice" and legal abortion is my policy preference, for a number of reasons. There is nothing inconsistent with Scalia's dissent and holding these positions because I don't believe abortion access should be a federal matter, for reasons Scalia explains better than I could.

Second, part of the inspiration for this post still requires mentioning, especially in the context of policy assertions divorced from reality: referring to abortion clinics as "reproductive centers" is enough to make Orwell proud. There is no doubt that Ms. Lithwick is not the first person to have used this insultingly absurd misnomer, but I read it and nearly suffered ocular strain from the eyeroll it induced.

Third, I wish the Scalia who wrote this opinion was present in the McDonald decision. Instead, we got a conservative hiding behind insults to the legal academy to capitulate sell-out to substantive due process; proof in a black robe that the Right, just as easily as the Left, can lack the intellectual honesty to be constitutionally consistent.

Unfortuately, I couldn't find a PDF of the slip opinion that isn't behind a pay wall, so HTML will have to do.

*Technically, it's a concurrence in part and a dissent in part, but the text makes pretty clear that Nino isn't being very agreeable.