TEA Partier has new theory of the Constitution
Rep. Gerald Bennett (R-Libby) has introduced a bill which he acknowledges is unconstitutional. The bill would strip young women of their privacy rights and force them to seek parental consent before terminating a pregnancy. But Bennett believes that popular will is with him, and that
“The will of the people should never be held subservient to their own constitution.”
In fact, our Constitution is exactly the opposite of what Bennett believes it to be. The Constitution protects individual rights, and protects these rights against mob sentiment.
Bennett has also proposed a new standard for deciding whether Constitutional law should even be considered: whether or not the idea got more votes than it took to ratify Montana’s Constitution.
“While the constitution was ratified by 50.5%, LR-120 [parental notification by young women who terminate a pregnancy] was ratified by 71%. The will of the people is clear.”
Bennett is talking about LR-120, the 2012 legislative referendum that now requires young women under the age 16 to notify their parents about an abortion. To pass constitutional muster, the measure, which is now law, allows a young woman the option of approaching a judge instead her parents. The US Supreme Court has long held that such an option must exist under any law that requires parental notification for an abortion. With his new bill that he introduced last week, Bennett is trying to take LR-120 a step further, and into clearly unconstitutional territory. His bill would require anybody 18 or younger to get parental permission to have an abortion, without a judicial bypass option. The current Montana law, from the referendum, requires only notification, not permission, and contains a judicial option.
In a memo to Bennett, attorneys for the Montana Legislature point out that his bill violates not just the US Constitution, but also Montana’s constitutional guarantees of equal protection and the right of privacy as well. But he’s got an answer for that, too. Bennett argues that the people who wrote the Montana constitution didn’t intend women to have a right to privacy. Rather, Montanans were just trying to prevent the government from spying on us.