Other campus: Miers: a moving target (Virginia Tech)

By The Collegiate Times

(U-WIRE) BLACKSBURG, Va. – “There are instances in which revisiting precedent is not only right but necessary.” With an opinion like that featured in a news report, Supreme Court justice nominee Harriet Miers is likely to receive some scrutinizing responses.

Released Tuesday, a document from 1989 that showed Miers’ distaste for abortion is likely to strike a chord in the mind of people with or without political affiliations. However, it should not necessarily be the determining factor in whether or not Miers is confirmed as a justice.

The document includes a pledge from Miers that she would support a constitutional amendment that would prohibit abortions except in the case of life or death for the mother. A survey sent out by Texans United for Life was completed by Miers 16 years ago and reflects her strong stance against abortion, except when absolutely necessary. Such a view, accompanied with President Bush’s statement pertaining to Miers’ Christian faith, could be indicative of the way Miers would vote if confirmed.

The problem with such an assumption is this: ideology is not to play a part in the way a justice presides over the court. “Judicial activism,” or legislating from the bench, is not a part of being a justice. A person’s specific beliefs should have no effect on the decision they make about a specific case and, therefore, should not result in ideologically biased legislation.

The release of the document brought about a rapid reply from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Their acting president, Karen Pearl, released a statement about the document saying it raised “grave concerns for women’s health, rights and safety in this country.” Their apprehensions are valid, but after 16 years, it is quite possible that Miers’ views on abortion may not be the same as they used to be.

Enter Sandra Day O’Connor. Prior to her confirmation as a justice, O’Connor was widely perceived to be conservative. If Miers is confirmed she will replace O’Connor, who proved to be more moderate than expected, especially concerning her support in abortion rights. The obvious correlation between the women is the opportunity that exists to change a stance on an issue once confirmed as a justice. After all, if O’Connor could do it, so could Miers; and who is to say she hasn’t already?

Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that allowed for a woman’s right to choose, deals with privacy rights. These are not explicit but inherent within the Constitution. While the right of privacy can be argued, it remains the basis for the decision. The duty of a justice is to uphold the laws set forth for them in the Constitution. If Roe v. Wade was passed once, it is not likely that the opinion one woman held 16 years ago is going to overturn it with great haste.

We should all remember that the past should always be taken into consideration, but, especially in this case, not used as the determinant factor for confirmation.

Staff Editorial

The Collegiate Times (Virginia Tech)