To members of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate
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 acts(3); John Roberts has advocated positions which:
- are skewed to the ideology of religious extremists,
- balkanize the country into a loose mesh of little republics
- 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.
Women are more likely than men to contract HIV through sexual encounters and about 42 per cent of all persons infected with HIV are women.
Cancer of the cervix, the most common form of cancer in developing countries, is often linked to the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus. There are already moves to block the availability of a vaccine being developed which could prevent this form of cancer.
To withhold this information to young women is to literally condemn some of them to death. Those who oppose women's reproductive autonomy oppose all of these things that could make having a child or even having sex a safer experience. It is clear that they are not interested in the healthy births of healthy children, but in controlling sexual behavior of women by codifying a particular, restrictive religious view in the laws of our country. It is not the place of government to legislate morality for its citizens. It is the place of government to insure the health and well-being of its people. It is clear that if women's reproductive freedom is restricted that women will die needlessly and many women and their children will suffer unnecessarily.
Opposing women's reproductive autonomy is to oppose the unalienable right to Liberty with which each individual is naturally endowed. Freedom to live as we choose, freedom to love whomever we love, freedom to pursue happiness in our own way, without coercion from our neighbors or the state. This is why we oppose John Roberts: We believe it is not the place of government to legislate morality for its citizens. We know that a woman who cannot control her own person is not free.
If Congress is to appoint conservative jurists, We The People demand they are mainstream conservatives that will uphold the Constitution as a common ground for all, not the playground of the few. It is the place of government to insure every single person in this country has an opportunity to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Moreover, as Congress comes together to consider the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, it has to ask how two years on the bench can possibly make a person qualified to be the top jurist in the land. We are deeply disturbed that Judge Roberts attempted to conceal his membership in the Federalist Society, and his role in Bush V. Gore.
We have seen the tragic consequences of George W. Bush's patronage appointments in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We must be more vigilant in vetting the qualifications, experience and abilities of the nominees put forth by the Bush administration.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must be a seasoned judge with a record that can be openly and completely examined. The White House's refusal to release all documents pertaining to the nominee is further cause for extreme caution in this matter. Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. This choice will affect the lives of all Americans for decades to come. We must have transparency in the process, and it must be rigorous and thorough.
We oppose the nomination of John Roberts, and ask that our Congressional representatives stand firm in insisting that the people chosen to fill the two vacancies on the Supreme Court of the United States of America be people on whom we can rely to uphold the ideals that make us uniquely American --equal protection under the law, justice for all citizens in equal measure, equal opportunity, and true Liberty - the right to personal and individual autonomy.
Anything less cannot be allowed to exist if we are to call ourselves the descendants of Jefferson and Adams, or Washington and Franklin. Without a secular government and equal treatment for all, we cannot call ourselves Americans anymore.