Rep. Steve King, the prom king of Wingnuttia High School, has again claimed that the Supreme Court’s decision in Griswold v Connecticut was wrongly decided, on the specious grounds that the court had created a new right out of thin air. He did this during an appearance at a high school in Iowa:
Prior to 1965, Connecticut law stated that married women who used “any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purposes of preventing conception” could be fined and imprisoned. The Griswold decision struck down that law, citing a constitutional “right to marital privacy,” and prevented other states from banning contraception.
King told students that he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling on that case because he believes the “right to privacy” is actually not protected in the Constitution.
“So the Supreme Court found that there is a right to privacy in the shadows of the Constitution that no one had discovered before that had sat on the bench, so they created this contrived legal argument that produced legalization of abortion on demand, without restraint,” King told the students at Ames High School on Wednesday.
He added, “I think we need to have our Supreme Court decisions on solid grounds, and I think it’s written on weak grounds, and I would be willing to say that four of the Supreme Court justices agree with me on that case.”
This argument is simply incoherent — and unnecessary. He only makes it because he’s against the later ruling in Roe v Wade, which also mentioned a right to privacy. But it is entirely possible to be against Roe without being against a general right to privacy; lots of legal scholars take exactly that position. King is throwing the privacy baby out with the abortion bathwater.
The usual argument offered by the right against Griswold is to criticize the court’s use of of the term “penumbras” in establishing a right to privacy. I think I’ll write a separate post about that subject, on which conservatives are entirely hypocritical.