Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning

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Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning
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This Liberty Law Talk is with political scientist Justin Dyer on his latest book, Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning (Cambridge University Press, 2013). In debates over the legality of abortion common opinion has focused on the connections between the legal treatment of slavery in the nineteenth century and the contemporary status of abortion as a fundamental right. Dyer takes this debate as his starting point but goes much deeper by showing the layers of constitutional, political, and philosophical meaning linking slavery and abortion in the American experience. This conversation covers the ground of the Dred Scott opinion, the 14th Amendment and its privileges or immunities and due process clauses, abortion and the common law, the historical legal record the Roe Court relied on, and Rawlsian public reason as a legitimating authority for political debate.