This week, Personhood USA’s state affiliate in Oklahoma delivered an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States which has the potential to overturn the infamous Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions.
Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma wrote an ill-argued decision against the state Personhood ballot initiative, thus denying Oklahoma voters their right to decide the issue and petition-circulators their right to petition the government. The State Supreme Court’s action in striking down the initiative – before it had even been voted upon – was a case of overreach in judicial review that provided a golden opportunity for appeal.
The appeal, dubbed Personhood Oklahoma v. Barber, et al., will call for redress of Oklahomans’ First and Tenth Amendment rights. “This is about the fundamental rights of people in a state to decide for themselves what the law in their state should be,” said Steve Crampton, the attorney from Liberty Counsel who represents Personhood Oklahoma.
In his Casey dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia underscored the right of citizens to vote on the issue:
The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.
Personhood USA legal analyst Gualberto Garcia Jones believes that denying this democratic decision-making opportunity exposes a chink in abortion’s judicial armor. “The undue burden of the standard of Casey is completely unworkable,” he explains. “With such a vague standard and any variety of interpretations, it is impossible for citizens to understand it and apply it.”
Over the past three years, Personhood has surprised many by surpassing expectations of how many people would vote for a total ban on abortion. Since then, the movement has steadily built support from voters, Republican candidates, and pro-life groups. Now Liberty Counsel and Personhood Oklahoma are taking a major step forward for the pro-life movement by creating a new challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court – giving the nation’s highest court a chance to reverse nationally legalized abortion.
“Our mission is obedience to Christ and defending the lives of all innocent children,” Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, told supporters. “The ‘end goal’ has never been to get a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, or to overturn Roe, because it is often argued that such actions are not necessary to end abortion.” However, Mason believes that this appeal “has taken us straight to the heart of the battle, fast-forwarding several years.”
“Regardless of the outcome of this case, Personhood has proven itself effective in its methods and strategy, not only by saving lives, but by legally being the first to bring a legitimate, direct legal challenge to Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” Mason added.
If the recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act teaches us anything, it is that the Court is unpredictable. Justices made their decisions for reasons few could have expected. Instead of worrying, hand-wringing, and making prognostications about how the nation’s highest court will vote, Personhood USA will continue striving to protect the pre-born by love and by law. For pro-life Oklahomans, it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.