Vice Presidential Questions, October 1, 2008
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.
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.
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 Why, in your view, is Roe v. Wade a bad decision?
Sarah 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.
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: 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.
Katie Couric: Thomas Jefferson wrote about the First Amendment, building a wall of separation between church and state. Why do you think that's so important?
Sarah Palin: His intention in expressing that was so that government did not mandate a religion on people. And Thomas Jefferson also said never underestimate the wisdom of the people. And the wisdom of the people, I think in this issue is that people have the right and the ability and the desire to express their own religious views, be it a very personal level, which is why I choose to express my faith, or in a more public forum.
And the wisdom of the people, thankfully, engrained in the foundation of our country, is so extremely important. And Thomas Jefferson wanted to protect that.
Biden: The best way to look at it is look the every state where the wall's not built. Look at every country in the world where religion is able to impact ... the governance. Almost every one of those countries are in real turmoil.
Look, the founders were pretty smart. They had gone through, you know, several hundred years of wars - religious wars. And they were in the midst of religious wars in Europe. And they figured it out: The best way to do this is to keep the government out of religion. They took religion out of government. But they didn't mean religion couldn't be in a public place, in the public square.