Roe v. Wade: The Banality of Evil in Mr. Justice Blackmun
most defenseless in the wombs of their mothers.
And so this banal "little Eichmann," under the name "BLACKMUN, J.," legalized a procedure called abortion, and raised it to the level of a constitutionally-protected civil right, and so ushered into America a horrendous evil, the Holocaust of the unborn. It is a decision from which it has been difficult to escape.
At his confirmation hearings in 1970, three short years before he authored Roe v. Wade, Blackmun described the Supreme Court as the "end of the line." "The decision," he said, "had better be right."
"Right," Blackmun stated. What, for Blackmun, is right? How does a morally banal man know what's right?
When the case of Roe v. Wade, which started at the U.S. District Court in Texas, reached the "end of the line," Justice Blackmun wrote the majority (7-2) opinion. The decision he made was wrong, not wrong in any banal sense, but deadly and horrendously wrong. So wrong that one would hardly be guilty of exaggeration in calling it the greatest moral evil in which our country and its institutions of government have participated. So wrong, indeed, that it puts the legitimacy of our government in question.
And from the terrible "end of the line," we have endured the terrible beginning of, and so-far have seen nothing but, unending lines of death. Endless women have lined up before abortionists to end the lives of their children in a Holocaust bequeathed to the nation courtesy of Blackmun's banal moral vision. In his view, these women are "emancipated," and this banal word covers the multitude of sins.
While the banal Blackmun had his supporters, he had his detractors. But he was a proud, stubborn, and entirely impenitent little man. "I think it was right in 1973," he stated, "and I think it was right today," he said in 1994 when he left the Supreme Court.
Right? Again, Justice Blackmun uttered that word, "right." How could this banal little man say anything meaningful about right in light of the mounting numbers of dead unborn that he had a hand in allowing against the will of the majority of Americans? What sort of banal meaning did the word "right" have in the mind of Mr. Justice Blackmun?
No, he was neither hot nor cold; he was lukewarm, which is another word, the Biblical word, for banal. (cf. Rev. 3:16) "The sad truth," Hannah Arendt observes, "is that most evil is done by people who," like the conventional Adolf Eichmann and the conventional Harry Blackmun, "never make up their minds to be good or evil." One might note that they both had the same thin smile, a smile as narrow as their banal minds. I imagine Satan sports one of those.
"We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins," Justice Blackmun wrote in Roe v. Wade? What? Shakespeare's Hamlet who never set eyes on the United States Constitution had a better grasp of the issue than "Ol' Number Three." "To be or not to be," Mr. Justice Blackmun, "that is the question."
"The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together," wrote Arendt.
It is terrifying. Blackmun found six "little Eichmanns" just like him in the Supreme Court in 1973. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is that Eichmann looked smarter in his Obersturmbannführer uniform than the seven little Eichmanns looked in their plain black robes. But without their clothes, the eight men within were, in terms of banality, the same.
In addition to his banality, there was a sort of cowardice behind Mr. Justice Blackmun, perhaps the glitch or glimmer of a suppressed conscience trying to justify the crime against humanity in which it conspired to bring about. In justifying his vicious opinion, he hid behind the skirts of women or, rather, the skirts of some women. These women were as banal as he (for women can be as morally banal as men). These were women whose banality was found, like their violated and artificially infertile wombs, underneath skirts decorated with the plaid of meaningless words like progress and emancipation.
In the news conference that followed his resignation from the Supreme Court in 1994, Justice Blackmun stated that Roe v. Wade was "a step that had to be taken," a step "as we go down the road toward the full emancipation of women." A banal thought, as devoid of meaningful content as Blackmun's banal word "right." How ...
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Harry Blackmun, Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton, particular judgement, Pro-Life, Abortion, Right to Life, March for Life, US Supreme Court, Andrew M. Blackwell
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