Friday, June 27, 2008

The Supreme Court and a Culture of Life

Although none of the Supreme Court's decisions this session directly impact abortion, I believe some of these cases relate directly to our culture's respect for life.

In District of Columbia v. Heller, the court overturned the D.C. gun ban--a victory for life. It makes little sense, indeed, to say a person has a right to life, but lacks the right to protect that life. The right to self-defense flows from the inherent worth of the individual created in the image of God.

As William Blackstone explained in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, "Both the life and limbs of a man are of such high value, in the estimation of the law of England, that it pardons even homicide if committed ... in order to preserve them." Blackstone also wrote that the right of "having arms for their defense" is an auxiliary to "the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression."

Of course the Bible, upon which much of England's common law was based, encourages self-defense. As one example of many, Nehemiah instructed the people of God, "Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses." (Nehemiah 4:14)

The Supreme Court's recognition of the right of self-defense, and the corollary right to own handguns as a means of self-defense, is a welcome affirmation of the value of life. Life is, and always will be, worth fighting for.

The court's decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana, overturning death penalty laws in six states for the crime of child rape, is a blow to the culture of life. If our society truly valued its children, would we not apply the death penalty to those who commit the most heinous crime against them? The "cruel and unusual punishment" phrase used to justify the ruling must be understood by its original intent. What did James Madison and his contemporaries mean by it? Did not their states allow the death penalty for rape--and how much more in a case where the victim was a child?

To defend the sanctity and worth of every life, we cannot allow perverts to violate children. It makes no sense to protect children's lives but fail to protect them from the worst kind of assault. What penalty other than death could fit the crime of child rape? It seems to be a self-evident law of nature that child rapists have forfeited their right to live. The Kennedy ruling devalues life. All of our lives just became that much cheaper.

The constitutional balance of power between the branches of government is out of kilter when the most important job of a president is to appoint judges. But these cases show us once again that the course of our nation depends on electing a president who will appoint judges who respect the Constitution. Someday, we must limit the judiciary to its constitutional authority. Until then we celebrate the victories, grieve the defeats, and elect presidents and legislators who will give us good kings--I mean, judges.

Wesley Wilson is the President of Let Her Live, a nonprofit dedicated to saving babies by showing the beauty and value of life to women considering abortion. Please learn more about the Let Her Live pro-life billboard campaign. Donations are tax deductible.

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