Tong, Disoriented Or Disorienting

October 13, 2022

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Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has confessed to being “disoriented.”

The four month old U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson is responsible for Tong’s four month old disorientation. Surrounded by Democrat legislators and abortion activists, Tong said, according to a piece in the Hartford Courantthat the four month old decision “is, for many of us,” including the Attorney General himself, “disorienting because like a lot of people, I had only grown up in a world in which abortion was safe, legal, and accessible,’' Tong told reporters in Hartford. “I was born a month before Roe was decided, and now it’s gone.’'

Roe v. Wade is not gone in Connecticut. Tong is well aware that he lives in a state in which, way back in 1991, the Connecticut legislature codified Roe v. Wade into state law. And he is well aware that the four month old Supreme Court decision rescinding Roe v. Wade does not disturb Connecticut’s legislation. In fact, the whole point of the high court’s decision was to remove decision making on abortion matters from both the U.S. Congress and the high court and deposit decision making authority where it properly belongs – in state legislatures.

The Attorney General’s office, chock full of lawyers, might have advised Tong, had he asked any one of the 181 attorneys at his beck and call, that the court’s decision reinforced, rather than put in mortal danger, Connecticut’s 1991 statute.

The high court found that the constitutional and historical underpinning of the court’s prior Roe v Wade decision was fatally flawed, a point that former Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, certainly not an enemy of abortion rights, also stressed in a December  1992 New York University Law Review article:

The seven to two judgment in Roe v. Wade declared "violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment" a Texas criminal abortion statute that intolerably shackled a woman's autonomy; the Texas law "except[ed] from criminality only a life-saving procedure on behalf of the [pregnant woman]." Suppose the Court had stopped there, rightly declaring unconstitutional the most extreme brand of law in the nation, and had not gone on, as the Court did in Roe, to fashion a regime blanketing the subject, a set of rules that displaced virtually every state law then in force.  Would there have been the twenty-year controversy we have witnessed, reflected most recently in the Supreme Court's splintered decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey?

The Dobbs decision is worth quoting in part:

the Court finds the Fourteenth Amendment [upon which its Roe v Wade decision rested] clearly does not protect the right to an abortion. Until the latter part of the 20th century, there was no support in American law for a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. No state constitutional provision had recognized such a right. Until a few years before Roe, no federal or state court had recognized such a right. Nor had any scholarly treatise. Indeed, abortion had long been a crime in every single State. At common law, abortion was criminal in at least some stages of pregnancy and was regarded as unlawful and could have very serious consequences at all stages. American law followed the common law until a wave of statutory restrictions in the 1800s expanded criminal liability for abortions. By the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, three-quarters of the States had made abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy. This consensus endured until the day Roe was decided. Roe either ignored or misstated this history, and Casey declined to reconsider Roe’s faulty historical analysis.

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The Dobbs decision has been available for inspection by Connecticut’s Attorney General since the high court rendered its decision on June 24, 2022.

Tong, in truth, is not disoriented by the high court’s long overdue Dobbs decision. He knows that the court in Dobbs firmly planted in legislatures across the nation – including Connecticut – a constitutional authority to decide abortion questions. He knows that the Connecticut legislature has reaffirmed Roe v Wade -- which, grievously disappointing former Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, does not allow abortion beyond the quickening of the fetus in the womb.

Most of Tong’s recent actions on abortion are redundant and necessary only as a pre-election entrapment net to snag the kind on people who, like abortion extremist Blumenthal, the “Senator From Planned Parenthood,” do not want, in state or nation, any reasonable restrictions on abortion on demand at any stage of a pregnancy.

This ploy, some Republicans rightly think, is designed to distract the public from a national administration whose policies on borders, foreign affairs, domestic spending, energy supplies, inflation, and the recession that Lamont believes is due to arrive in Connecticut any moment,  are, quite simply, wrongheaded and ruinous.

Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.


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