Today's News & Views


MAY 2006
Vol. 33, No. 5

NRL Honors Pro-life Champion Henry Hyde

NRLC President Dr. Wanda Franz presents Rep. Henry Hyde with a Lifetime Achievement Award from National Right to Life.

Henry J. Hyde: One of the Genuine Heroes of This or Any Era
BY Dave Andrusko

It would be hard to go wrong--a pro-life event honoring Rep. Henry Hyde. After all (as Tim Goeglein, special assistant to President George W. Bush and deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison, put it), Rep. Hyde is to the pro-life movement what William Wilberforce was to the anti-slavery movement in Great Britain.

But on April 25, when National Right to Life celebrated the 13th annual Proudly Pro-Life Awards Dinner by honoring Rep. Hyde, there was a special, almost indescribable something in the atmosphere as we gathered at the historic Willard Hotel. (Jacki Ragan, who wears so many hats for NRL, did her usual magnificent job in arranging the tribute.)

One after another, congressmen and senators paid their respects to a man who has been a towering force in the battle to win back legal protection for the littlest Americans.

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(Left to right) NRLC Chairman of the NRLC Board Geline Williams; board member Charles James; and Maggie Disney, office manager for the Virginia Society for Human Life.

Sharing the good fellowship were  (left to right) Holly Gatling, executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life; Wayne Cockfield, an alternate to the NRLC board of directors from South Carolina; and Irene Walsh, a member of the NRLC staff.


Tim Goeglein, special assistant to President George W. Bush and deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison

Henry Hyde -- A Force of Nature for Good
BY Tim Goeglein

Editor's note. The following are remarks delivered at the Proudly Pro-Life Awards Dinner. Mr. Goeglein is special assistant to President George W. Bush

Thank you. This is always one of the best nights in Washington because you are always in the presence of people who know that their vocation is also their avocation. Although we are in different foxholes, we are all part of the culture of life mission.

Henry Hyde has been a force of nature for good for a very long time. I thought of this just yesterday when I was reading a copy of a speech that had been delivered in New York City 50 years ago. The person who was delivering the speech was telling the story of the great Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy, going to the furthest reaches of Russia, the furthest reaches in a country spanning 11 time zones.

He went in to the company of a tribe of people whom he had thought were completely unaware of Western history. One of the leaders of the tribe said to the great Leo Tolstoy, who, by the way, had no idea who Tolstoy was, "Tell us of great men." Tolstoy thought this was a remarkable opportunity. He began with Alexander the Great. (I have to say, being Macedonian, I was proud to read this story.)

Tolstoy began to tell of Napoleon. But before he could get his words out, there was a person who was sitting in the back of this troupe. She said, "Tell us of Lincoln. Have you heard of Lincoln?" And Tolstoy thought, "Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte. All this way, and they've heard of Abraham Lincoln!"

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Vol. 33, No. 4



From the President

Wanda Franz, Ph.D.

When Judicial Precedent Subverts the Constitution

Respect for precedent means not only that the justices should follow the specific outcomes of prior cases but also that they must follow their logic. The logic of cases demands that judges second-guess legislative and executive decisions on the most sensitive moral and political issues and that judges decide for themselves on the appropriate means for achieving preferred policies. The simple fact is that constitutional law as set out in the cases now requires judges to legislate from the bench. Nominees to the [Supreme] Court can repeat endlessly that judges should interpret, not make, law. But unless they are willing, once on the Court, to rethink the logic of prior cases, they will have to make law.

This displacement of political decision-making has had deeply harmful consequences for our society….

So [Senator] Specter's questions [at Justice Alioto's nomination hearing] about stare decisis [i.e. following precedent] were not tangential or technical.
--Robert F. Nagel, in The Weekly Standard, 4/17/ 2006

It is fair to say that Senator Specter is in favor of abortion "rights" and that he looks at the Constitution as a malleable "living thing" that "represents the values of a changing society." It is also fair to assume that when it comes to abortion, he--like pro-abortionists in general--expects "progressive" justices to make law and conservative justices to "respect precedent" and question neither the legitimacy nor logic of such judge-made law.

Judges below the level of the Supreme Court are, of course, obliged to follow the precedent of a Supreme Court decision. Some courts, such as the "progressive" 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, venture beyond Supreme Court precedent. This lack of judicial discipline has earned the 9th Circuit the highest reversal rate among appeal courts.

More typically, appeal courts bow (sometimes grudgingly) to the authority of the Supreme Court. Thus in a terse amendment to a previous decision the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (that originally had gone against a group of abortionists), Judge J. Michael Luttig wrote (8/22/2000), "I understand the Supreme Court to have intended its decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) to be a decision of super-stare decisis with respect to a woman's fundamental right to choose whether or not to proceed with a pregnancy. And I believe this understanding to have been not merely confirmed, but reinforced, by the Court's recent decision in Stenberg v. Carhart [2000]."

Read Dr. Franz's Entire Column

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