Paul Greenberg

The jurisprudence of Her Honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, may be only mediocre at best, but her candor deserves the highest praise. Every few years she'll pull back the judicial curtain and tell the rest of us what she thinks is really going on at the court. And shock anybody who can still be shocked at the court's motivations.

Back in the summer of 2009, Madam Justice Ginsburg let the cat out of the bag, or rather the tiger, when she was talking about Roe v. Wade, the celebrated magna carta of abortion in this country:

"Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice any more. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that changed their abortion laws before Roe are not going to change back. So we have a policy that only affects poor women, and it can never be otherwise. ... Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of."

Gentle Reader can just imagine what kind of population our contemporary Margaret Sanger in black robes must have had in mind when she spoke of the need to control its growth: the poor and despised. The kind of black and Hispanic and poor women with few resources who may feel they have no other choice but to submit themselves to a butcher like the infamous "Dr." Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, or just your friendly neighborhood abortion mill run by Planned Parenthood.

And now Justice Ginsburg, a staunch advocate of legalized abortion, has come out against Roe v. Wade, saying it went too far too fast, and sparked a nationwide reaction that continues until this day. (And how.) "That was my concern," the distinguished justice told a crowd of law students at the University of Chicago this month, "that the court had given opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly. ... My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum that was on the side of change."

On this occasion Madam Justice was more than candid; she was right -- certainly by all the barometers of public opinion and the trend of legislative enactments in state after state. Can anyone now recall the political atmosphere in 1973 when the court handed down Roe v. Wade, and it was taken almost as inevitable that the tide of abortions would now sweep over the whole country? "Supreme Court settles abortion issue," announced the front-page headline in the New York Times the day after Roe was handed down. The Times' news coverage proved as reliable then as it does now.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.