Since our state was founded the North Dakota State Constitution has guaranteed the inalienable right of “enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation; pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.” To put it mildly, that’s not the most specific or precise statement you will ever see. Some might call it rather broad, or even vague.
It was recently pointed out here at SayAnythingBlog.com that the constitution also states “The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state.” You probably wouldn’t have to look too hard to find two lawyers who would disagree about their interpretation of that statement. In fact, anyone who looks through our constitution (or any other constitution) will quickly realize almost everything in the document is left a little bit open-ended.
This might surprise some people because political activists have been using accusations of dangerous “vagueness” to try to scare people away from policy proposals that enjoy widespread public support.
When the Hobby Lobby case arose liberals were adamant that there could be no first amendment right for the Green family to stay in business while refusing to buy insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs. The left insisted that if such a vague and open ended right to freedom of conscience were to be recognized there would be “a very slippery slope” as people lost coverage for psychiatric care, blood transfusions, surgery, etc. Fortunately, five justices of the Supreme Court disagreed.
Liberals have not yet been able to point to a single person who has not been able to get the health care they wanted because of the Supreme Court’s decision, but so far as I know none of them have acknowledged that in the lead up to the court’s decision all they were doing was fear mongering. Their disingenuous smear of the Green family’s position was never a real concern but it allowed them to avoid discussing the Obamacare mandate that was actually in question.
The same leftists are now telling North Dakotans that Measure 1 is too vauge. The measure (crafted to reinforce the state’s pro life laws) came through the Senate Judiciary Committee with the support of its chairman, David Hogue, whom legislators of both parties will acknowledge as one of the best legal minds in the state. Yet the nation’s largest abortion business would like you to believe that the legislature somehow accidentally placed a measure on the ballot that is so vague that it will ban everything from IVF tomedical research.
The accusations of “vagueness” and these far-fetched theories for how the measure will be interpreted are, again, an attempt to avoid discussing the actual policy in question. No honest individual could compare the text of Measure 1 to the quotes above from the state constitution and conclude that Measure 1 is distinctly vague.
But if they gave up the “it’s too vague” smear then Measure 1 opponents would have to defend their actual position: abortion on demand without regard to reason, safety or the development of the about-to-be-born child. So don’t expect them to change tactics anytime soon.