President Trump recently nominated Brett Kavanaugh as his choice for the Supreme Court, a nomination that has unleashed a firestorm of resistance from democrats and fierce political opposition, something they vowed to carry out even before the President announced his nominee. Kavanaugh is currently enduring a grueling confirmation process wherein much of the verbal and emotional warfare has focused on the 14th amendment to the Constitution and Kavanaugh’s opponents’ concern that he will overturn the Roe v Wade decision.
Adopted in 1868, the 14th amendment was originally written during the Reconstruction period and issued by President Andrew Jackson as a requirement for the Confederate States to rejoin the Union after the Civil War. The amendment’s first section stated that no state could “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The Fourteenth Amendment has become one of the most controversial and litigated in our history.
One reason for its complicated interpretation is how individually the word “Liberty” is interpreted. The word appears once in the Preamble to the Constitution, which in part states…”and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Historically, the word appears as it was commonly used in 1886 when the 14th amendment was written, as a short version of the word “Civil Liberty.” Recall at the time, Confederate states needed to pass this acknowledgment of the right to “liberty,” particularly given the horrific treatment their former slaves were subjected to within their jurisdictions. Years later, the Supreme Court has now interpreted this word “liberty” to include the right to unrestricted abortion, gay marriage, and has revolved around other controversial cases such as Bush v. Gore.
No matter what your interpretation of the word “liberty,” it is a tragedy that human life is destroyed based upon this word. The word “liberty” was originally written by English men fighting for their freedom from a repressive authoritarian king. “Liberty” was employed to implore God to send down “blessings” to those brave patriots and their future generations of children. “Liberty” was commanded and directed to Confederated States to help free people from slavery, oppression, and discrimination.
So until Kavanaugh is confirmed, Congress will fiercely debate and even attack each other based upon their interpretations of the word “liberty,” and some will dig their heals in against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, based almost entirely on partisan politics and their unwavering support of a woman’s choice to end the life of her unborn child. I offer that this powerful word “liberty,” full of the promise of life, was never intended to justify the killing of the unborn. Since Roe v. Wade and the killing of over 60 million unborn children in the U.S., those who oppose abortion as morally wrong continue to be demonized by many as opponents of a woman’s “liberty,” rather than demonizing those who end the lives of unborn babies – future generations who will never know “liberty” on this earth.
In the end, though we may not agree on how “liberty” is applied to the issue of abortion, we must consider that “if anything, the word liberty means we can differ.” (George Orwell)