Although GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has dodged questions about whether he believes the Constitution protects a woman’s right to use birth control, one of Romney’s top legal advisers is a leading opponent of the right to contraception. Robert Bork, the former federal judge who serves as co-chair of Romney’s Justice Advisory Committee, described the first Supreme Court case to protect access to contraception as “utterly specious” and a “time bomb.”
In a surprising departure from conservative orthodoxy, Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) broke with Romney’s legal adviser yesterday, stating that the Constitution does indeed protect a right to birth control:
“I think some conservatives get this thing wrong. They say, ‘Oh you don’t have a right to privacy because it’s not in the Constitution.’ Well, there’s not a right to private property in the Constitution either,” the libertarian-leaning senator said. . . . “I would say there is a right to privacy. It precedes the Constitution, it pre-exists, it comes, if you believe in God, from your Creator. It comes in a natural way. It’s yours,” Paul said in a speech on Internet freedom at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Paul said he agrees with the landmark Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut, which first declared that the Constitution protects privacy and invalidated a state law banning access to contraceptives.
Paul’s statement contains a number of errors — the Fifth Amendment does explicitly protect certain private property rights, for example — but it is also a clear break from the views of many conservative legal thinkers, including one of Romney’s top advisers.
It’s worth noting that Rand Paul’s stance also places him at odds with his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who has repeatedly introduced legislation seeking to undermine the constitutional right to contraception.