30 Years After Harris v. McRae, Landmark Decision Holds New Significance During Kagan Confirmation Hearings
On June 30, 1980 – 30 years ago today – Americans United for Life (AUL) successfully defended the Hyde Amendment before the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case Harris v. McRae, resolving a four-year legal battle to ensure that Congress may prohibit taxpayer dollars from funding abortion.
The Kagan tie-in?
Harris v. McRae has prevented taxpayer-funded abortion under Medicaid for three decades, and established a legislative standard set by the Hyde Amendment. This narrow 5-4 decision has had a major impact on an issue upon which seven out of ten voters agree – public funds should not be used for abortion.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life, reminded supporters in a speech last week, “We won Harris v. McRae with one vote.”
Among those who opposed the decision were Justice John Paul Stevens, whose seat President Obama proposes to fill with Elena Kagan, and Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom Kagan clerked and has repeatedly singled out as someone she admires. Marshall, an advocate of unrestricted abortion, thought that a judge should “do what [he] thinks is right and let the law catch up.”
Elena Kagan’s record as a pro-abortion political operative who has pre-judged the abortion issue clearly demonstrates that she would use her position as a judge to impose her extreme views upon the American people, rather than impartially interpreting the law.
Dr. Yoest, who is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee, will raise this critical point.
Today, with a full day of questioning ahead, Senators need to ask Elena Kagan what she thinks of Harris v. McRae. Will she respect this precedent or will she, like her hero Aharon Barak, “adapt the law to life’s changing needs”?
Brief Background of Harris v. McRae:
In 1976, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of certain federal tax dollars to pay for abortion. Cora McRae challenged the Hyde Amendment, taking action against Patricia Harris, then Secretary of Health and Human Services. On June 30, 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the funding restrictions of the Hyde Amendment were constitutional.
Harris v. McRae is a landmark decision because it ensures that Congress can prohibit the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.