The 105th annual meeting of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus took place in August in New Orleans. The Supreme Council, which is the top policy and law-making body of the Knights, issued what is in effect a pro-life manifesto.
Speaking for the 1.5 million Knights, the Supreme Council urged the U.S> Senate Judiciary Committee and the members of the Senate to confirm Judge Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
This support for Judge Bork is extremely important, for his nomination is being bitterly opposed by the pro-abortionists. It is reported that groups such as the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the American Civil Liberties Union are already spending millions of dollars to stop Judge Bork’s confirmation.
What arouses the ire of the pro-abortionists is Bork’s condemnation of the 1973 Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, Roe v. Wade. It is important to note that this censure of the judgment is based not on the ethics of abortion but on his opinion that the decision was unconstitutional. Giving evidence before a Senate Judiciary Committee in 1981, Judge Bork said: “I am convinced, as I think almost all constitutional scholars are, that Roe v. Wade is an unconstitutional decision, a serious and wholly unjustifiably usurpation of state legislative authority. I also think that Roe v. Wade is by no means the only example of such unconstitutional behaviour by the Supreme Court.”
The Roe v. Wade decision has indeed been roundly condemned by legal scholars, even by many who support legalized abortion. Professor John Hart Ely of the Harvard Law School wrote: “it is, nevertheless, a very bad decision…It is bad because it is bad constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.”
Professor Charles Rice, of the Notre Dame Law School described the decision as “the most outrageous decision ever handed down by the Court in its entire history.”
This is the view of almost every constitutional scholar. Indeed, if the Senate does not confirm Judge Bork it is difficult to see how any candidate of scholarly repute could be found to take his place.
The next stage towards Judge Bork’s confirmation will be before a Senate Judiciary Committee. The chairman of this Committee is Senator Joseph Biden who entered the presidential race for the Democrat nomination on June 9, 1987.
Biden, who has a “now you see me, now you don’t” record on voting on pro-life issues, was asked – along with all declared presidential candidates – what is position was on three constitutional amendments, supported by the National Right to Life Committee, to overturn Roe v. Wade and end abortion on demand.
Senator Biden sent a letter stating: “I strongly believe that the decision to have or not to have an abortion is a highly personal matter that should not be infringed upon by the federal government. Therefore, I do not support a constitutional amendment to prohibit abortion.”
Senator Biden has in the past voted pro-life but he has crossed the fence to the pro-abortion side. In 1982, he voted for the pro-life Hatch amendment in committee, but he changed his position and voted against the Hatch Amendment on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1983. It has been suggested by political analysts that one day he might find it expedient to move back. Meanwhile, it is doubtful if he will be helpful to Judge Bork in the hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Pro-lifers interested in the presidential campaign will be monitoring the proceedings. In addition to their support for Bork, the Knights passed the following pro-life resolutions:
– a resolution deploring the Roe v. Wade decision, urging the Supreme Court to reverse the judgment,
– a resolution condemning “practices of abortion, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, euthanasia, surrogate parenting and immoral genetic engineering.”
– Condemnation of “sex education that fosters and encourages promiscuity.”
– Request for education on sexuality in keeping with Church teaching.
– Opposition to public funding of abortion and artificial contraception.
– Support for natural family planning.
– A resolution expressing deep concern about pornography and its aftermath, and a demand that decency laws be enforced.
The Supreme Council asked that local units refrain from inviting individuals who are not strictly pro-life to events, and also stop making their facilities available to anti-life individuals or groups.
The Council urged all Knights of Columbus to educate themselves on the voting records of all candidates for elected office and to vote “with an informed conscience.”
A final resolution encouraged all members to devote one day a month to prayer and fasting for peace throughout the world.
Some of the resolutions refer specifically to the United States, but much of the discussion is relevant to the K of C in Canada. There is no doubt in the minds of the Supreme Council that the Knights of Columbus is a pro-life organization, actively working to restore protection to the pre-born child, and to maintain protection to the handicapped, the infirm and all whose lives are at risk.