The Public Interest

Bioethics and the Constitution

Diana Schaub

Summer 2004

WHEN I mentioned the topic of my essay to a man well-versed in these matters, he suggested that I respond to the question of the relation between bioethics and the Constitution as Justice Antonin Scalia might. As Supreme Court watchers know, Scalia is famous for his scathing dissents in which he chastises his fellow judges for sounding off on any and all subjects without any constitutional warrant for doing so. Scalia’s complaint is that judges regularly issue opinions untethered from the text of the Constitution, despite their clear obligation to remain tied to the document. One of my favorite of Scalia’s tongue-lashings comes from Hodgson v. Minnesota, an abortion case from 1990, in which Scalia declared:

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