Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ballot initiatives take on major social issues

Ballot initiatives this season involve some very controversial issues that will provoke hot feelings on either side. The state of Colorado will basically outlaw abortion if the initiative passes in this state. The proposed ballot would add to the Colorado state constitution defining a person to "include any human being from the moment of fertilization." This would effectively knock the wind out of Roe v. Wade or the language of the predecessor, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. South Dakota has an initiative on the ballot which would outlaw all abortions unless the woman was subject to rape or incest. Even liberal California is stepping in with a proposition to require 48 hour parental notification (which by the way is allowed due to the reasoning of Casey). Finally, California again with prop 8 would overturn the California State Supreme Court’s decision, which overturned the will of the people, which would define marriage between a man and a woman.

All of these are hot-topic buttons. While the same-sex marriage argument is nothing new in recent years, the abortion initiatives are. Why? What are these states, or people who propose ballots up to? In an answer: challenging Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade can only be overturned completely by the United States Supreme Court. With the resignation of O’Connor, and the appointments of Roberts and Alito, the court is posed to overturn this 1973 decision. In order for the court to do so, there must be a case to adjudicate.

The one to watch will be the Colorado statute defining a person. The Supreme Court has never definitively defined when personhood begins. And the Supreme Court would not have the power to direct whether a state constitution is constitutional. This is a major violation of federal powers.

I will be watching with great interest to see where the people through the voters stand. Rather than the courts, or Congress.

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