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Constitutional FUD?

I recieved the following email in my inbox earlier tonight:

Dear student,

We look forward to your participation in the University of Washington
community during autumn 2006. UW offers a wide variety of learning
opportunities. We hope you will pursue many of them.

As a recipient of Federal financial support, the University is required by
Public Law 108-447 to make available an educational program on the U.S.
Constitution as part of Constitution Day on September 17. Since the
University is not in session on the 17th, we are making available to you a
website on the Constitution from September 12 to 22, 2006. The site is
available now at http://depts.washington.edu/constday .

The site provides an overview of the history of the Constitution and a brief
discussion of current constitutional debates, as well as links to other
pages that provide additional information and resources. There is also a
bibliography of popular references and a list of courses at the University
of Washington that address the Constitution. In addition, the UW site
contains links to a number of webcasts on the Constitution:

1. A Conversation on the Constitution: Judicial Independence
2. Key Constitutional Concepts
3. The Roberts Court: What Can This Term Tell Us About the Future of the
Court?
4. Domestic Spying: What are the Checks on Presidential Power?

For you crossword puzzle enthusiasts, look for the Constitution Day puzzle
at our site and test your knowledge.

We encourage you to kick-off your autumn quarter studies early and visit the
University’s Constitution Day website at
http://depts.washington.edu/constday .

Thank you,

UW Constitution Day

Being the part-time constitutional scholar that I am, I decided to check it out and, perhaps, learn something along the way. The description of the drafting and signing of the Constitution was sparse and routine, but an essay entitled “Some Current Constitutional Controversies” contained some interesting (if expected) bias. For example (emphasis added):

…the Court’s conservative majority has struck down or limited the reach of key provisions in the Gun Free School Zones Act, the Violence Against Women Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Last I checked, these decisions were made with four “liberal” justices, four “conservative” justices, and one decidedly moderate justice. Of course, those on the farther right or left think that Jutice O’Conner (and now Kennedy) was/is on “the other side,” but to them I’m either an anarchist or a facist, so I don’t really care what they might think in this case.

Now, get this:

Many people speculate whether the new conservative justices will vote to overturn Roe and thus make abortion illegal in the United States.

When I read this, my reaction was to begin writing this post. I thought, “this is outright, undeniable FUD. Overturning Roe v. Wade does not, I repeat, does not make abortion illegal in the United States. What overturning Roe v. Wade does do is make it legal once again for states to determine if abortion is legal in each state, which in my humble opinion is the way it should be. To suggest otherwise, as the (uncredited) writers of this web page did, is either the mistake of someone poorly informed (I did not get the impression from the website that the writer was poorly informed) or the intentional distortion of truth by an idealogue.”

Of course, then I read the next couple of sentences:

However, the impact of a Court ruling formally overturning Roe is quite difficult to predict. Such a ruling would not make abortion illegal.

Wait, what? “Such a ruling would not make abortion illegal” versus “and thus make abortion illegal in the United States.” I quickly reformed my opinion of the writer from “advesary” to “verysorry.”

While there is still (in my conservative-leaning libertarian mind) a decidedly “liberal” bent to the whole web page, I don’t think it was the work of a liberal mastermind trying to sway the minds of impressionable students. Rather, it was likely just the work of a well-meaning, though still left-of-center writer who, perhaps up against a deadline, didn’t read that paragraph too carefully.

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