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By C.C. Pecknold, First Things, Nov. 19, 2020
For years the pro-life movement has advanced incrementally through state-level protections and judicial challenges. We have had real victories. Vice President Pence is right: “Life is winning.” Yet now is the time to set forth an even bolder political agenda for a future in which we can finally say that “life has won.”
With legal scholar Joshua Craddock and “Americans United for Life” president Catherine Glenn Foster, I have been advocating for something we call “The Lincoln Proposal.” Our proposal takes inspiration from Abraham Lincoln’s most important moral act as president—the abolition of slavery—and applies his lessons about the just use of executive power to the pro-life cause.
In 1857, the Supreme Court decided in Dred Scott v. Sandford that slaves were not citizens, and so were not due the freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution. Many considered the decision “settled law” at the time. But while Lincoln acknowledged the court’s ruling to be binding on the parties, he denied that it had “precedential effect” and did not believe the court had settled the matter. In his first inaugural address, he boldly stated that the judiciary does not have exclusive interpretive authority over the Constitution: “the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court . . . the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.” …
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