Ahead of tonight’s debate between vice presidential candidates – Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – both candidates sat down with CBS’s Katie Couric in interviews that aired last night.
Among the topics of conversation were Roe v. Wade, the constitution and the right to privacy, and other decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The video can be found below, but here some excerpts from the interview – which has been the topic of much buzz on political and legal circles in recent days.
Couric asked Biden why he agreed with Roe:
Katie Couric: Why do you think Roe v. Wade was a good decision?
Joe Biden: Because it’s as close to a consensus that can exist in a society as heterogeneous as ours. What does it say? It says in the first three months that decision should be left to the woman. And the second three months, where Roe v. Wade says, well then the state, the government has a role, along with the women’s health, they have a right to have some impact on that. And the third three months they say the weight of the government’s input is on the fetus being carried.
And so that’s sort of reflected as close as anybody is ever going to get in this heterogeneous, this multicultural society of religious people as to some sort of, not consensus, but as close it gets.
Couric asked Palin why she believed Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided:
Couric: Why, in your view, is Roe v. Wade a bad decision?
Palin: I think it should be a states’ issue not a federal government-mandated, mandating yes or no on such an important issue. I’m, in that sense, a federalist, where I believe that states should have more say in the laws of their lands and individual areas. Now, foundationally, also, though, it’s no secret that I’m pro-life that I believe in a culture of life is very important for this country. Personally that’s what I would like to see, um, further embraced by America.
On whether there is a constitutional right to privacy, Biden said:
Biden: I think the liberty clause of the 14th Amendment … offers a right to privacy. Now that’s one of the big debates that I have with my conservative scholar friends, that they say, you know, unless a right is enumerated – unless it’s actually, unless [it] uses the word “privacy” in the Constitution – then no such “constitutional right” exists. Well, I think people have an inherent right.
Same question to Palin:
Couric: Do you think there’s an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution?
Palin: I do. Yeah, I do.
Couric: The cornerstone of Roe v. Wade.
Palin: I do. And I believe that individual states can best handle what the people within the different constituencies in the 50 states would like to see their will ushered in an issue like that.
Couric asked Biden about other Court precedent:
Couric: Are there Supreme Court decisions you disagree with?
Biden: You know, I’m the guy who wrote the Violence Against Women Act. And I said that every woman in America, if they are beaten and abused by a man, should be able to take that person to court – meaning you should be able to go to federal court and sue in federal court the man who abused you if you can prove that abuse. But they said, “No, that a woman, there’s no federal jurisdiction.” And I held, they acknowledged, I held about 1,000 hours of hearings proving that there’s an effect in interstate commerce.
Women who are abused and beaten and beaten are women who are not able to be in the work force. And the Supreme Court said, “Well, there is an impact on commerce, but this is federalizing a private crime and we’re not going to allow it.” I think the Supreme Court was wrong about that decision.
Couric asked Palin the same question
Couric: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?
Palin: Well, let’s see. There’s, of course in the great history of America there have been rulings, that’s never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but …
Couric: Can you think of any?
Palin: Well, I could think of … any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But, you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a vice president, if I’m so privileged to serve, wouldn’t be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.
Palin is not a law school grad. Biden is a Syracuse Law alum.