I intend for this to be a short post, but an important one.
Federalism – the separation of states and the placement of powers in the states – is something I fully support. The authors of the constitution clearly intended for it to establish a decentralized nation where the federal government had very limited jurisdiction.
With the Supreme Court weighing in on the horrendously wicked Roe v Wade this week, even if not officially, I wanted to write briefly about why I think federalism is not the right answer to abortion. While Alito’s takedown of Roe on the basis of Constitutional law is very good, I think there’s a more profound reason to reject it and go further – banning abortion across the country in perpetuity without exception.
An analogy will help set this up.
Suppose your neighbor had several children and a giant window into the living room. Most days, your neighbor and his family can be seen through the window living normal, average lives. It would not occur to you to shoot the glass on this window and begin ordering your neighbor or his family to start obeying you at gunpoint. You’d be rightly arrested, and probably ostracized. Even if you heard him yelling at his family, you have no right to break in and try to impose anything on any of them.
But now suppose you pass by your neighbor one night and he is holding a gun. On the floor is clearly one of his children, shot dead. His other children are kneeling in front of him, turned away, clearly awaiting execution. What do you do then? Your jurisdiction as a neighbor doesn’t grant you a right to do anything in normal circumstances.
Do you take a shot and kill your neighbor? I think in this case, you now have a moral obligation to do so. To fail to do so would be a moral crime.
The federal government is you. You have no right to interfere with states – your neighbor in his home with his family – under almost every circumstance. But in very select, very restricted, very serious situations where you can stop horrific moral evils, you become morally obligated to do so. Your neighbor murdering his children is not analogous; it is exactly what abortion is.
Laws are always superseded by higher laws. The law of God supersedes man-made law. If God would have declared that constitutional government was sin, it would be sin to follow it, even if a strong legal case could be made for it. In this case, it is a horrific moral evil to brutally murder 70,000,000 unborn, innocent, defenseless children in the womb. It’s the kind of horrific evil that on smaller scales, we would praise anyone who intervenes as a hero.
On this issue, above perhaps any other (including, importantly, slavery), it is a moral obligation to defy the federal government if they require abortion. However, I believe it is also a moral obligation to defy any state which allows abortion. And that moral obligation extends to the federal government. We are not talking about injuries for which restitution might be made. We are talking about mass murder.
To raise constitutionalism or federalism to supremacy even over the moral obligation to make murder illegal is to build a foundation on sand. Whatever moral obligation you have to obey your state or form of government, it pales in comparison to your obligation to treat murder as murder and deal with it.
States are free to deal with murder however they wish, but they are not free to legalize it. If they were allowed to do so, then moral obligation loses all meaning.