The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

“What the Hearings Missed” — Hadley Arkes at The American Mind

In the aftermath of Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Hadley Arkes analyzes the Senate hearings. Despite some well-timed questions, Republicans ultimately missed their chance to put Judge Jackson on the record defending the right to kill unwanted children even after birth.

Some excerpts:

“During the recent hearings over Judge Jackson, Senator Marsha Blackburn raised a question that would draw attention when she asked if the judge could tell her what a ‘woman’ is. This question provided the right opening. Judge Jackson elicited some derision and chortling as she stepped around it by saying that she was not a ‘biologist.’ And there the question died, though the judge had essentially put on the table the key to the whole problem. Did Jackson believe, in fact, that the answer to the question of womanhood would be found in biology, not in psychology or psychotherapy: that sex is inescapably marked by the way we are constituted in our reproductive organs, in differences running through our hormones and cells, and not on whether any of us ‘felt’ to be men or women, apart from that body we found ourselves inhabiting at birth.”

“But Blackburn planted another important question. She picked up on the point that many people have argued—including, most notably, former-president Obama —that the right to an abortion entails the right to an ‘effective abortion’ or the right to leave the survivor of abortion to die, unattended. With time, that position has come to be held by now by virtually all Democrats in Congress, for they have had remarkable cohesion in resisting the latest bill to attach serious penalties to the killing of these survivors. Judge Jackson stepped into the trap….” 

“Yet, once again, there was no follow up. Senator Blackburn was evidently unclear as to where her own question led. And for that matter, she received no help. Senator Ben Sasse had introduced the new bill to attach penalties to killing survivors of abortion, but apparently he wasn’t paying attention, or no one thought to alert him.”

“On one level, it didn’t really matter, because the exchange was not likely to derail the confirmation of Judge Jackson. But the revelation of this news may have helped to shape the public understanding as the Supreme Court comes to the edge this year of scaling back or overturning Roe. Still, someone might have conveyed the news to Senators Manchin or Romney and their supporters back home that they were about to vote to confirm to the Court a justice who is not at all clear that the right to kill the unwanted child in the womb stops even at birth.” 

Read the full piece here.

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Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790