Reality Check

He Knows Not of What He Speaks

Montana’s Constitution is anything but socialist; rather, it espouses the personal rights of privacy

By Tammi Fisher

Remember the movie “Groundhog Day,” where the lead character woke up to the same day with the same events over and over again until he made different choices to affect a better outcome? On the topic of abortion, the Montana Legislature is Groundhog Day.  

Montana’s Constitution has the second strongest right to privacy in the nation, second only to Alaska. The right is explicit, and it is cherished by Montanans. It keeps the government out of our business, and it prevents law enforcement from utilizing the federal warrantless searches exceptions like drug dog sniffs, peering into your gated yard, and searching a vehicle. After a district court judge predictably and in reliance on Montanans’ right to privacy stopped the 2021 abortion bills from taking effect, local legislator Derek Skees proclaimed Montana’s Constitution is a “socialist rag.” Mr. Skees knows not of what he speaks.  

Montana’s Constitution is anything but socialist. It espouses the personal rights of privacy – that of private property and the right to be personally left alone. Socialists do not value privacy at all – indeed, socialists relegate the person to the whole, want government to have a larger role in our lives, and abolish private property rights in favor of collective ownership. Since Mr. Skees swore an oath to defend and uphold the Montana Constitution, his ignorance of its contents is concerning. Moreoever, his desire to change the explicit right to privacy enshrined in our state Constitution in the hopes of a different judicial result reflects an ill-informed solution that throws out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. The legislative end to abortion that Skees seeks will not occur even if Montana’s right to privacy is explicitly removed from our state Constitution. Judges will still be activist; Roe v. Wade relies upon a judicially created right to privacy because the U.S. Constitution doesn’t have an explicit privacy right. Desperate women will still obtain abortions whether its “legal” or not. And at what cost is Mr. Skees willing to sacrifice the “baby” – our right to privacy? Increased warrantless searches by government? Increased government involvement in our daily lives? Ironically, Skees’ desired result amending out the right to privacy in our Constitution will implement the same socialist ideals he rails against.  

Throwing out the state Constitution is not a solution to abortion. Rather than a reoccurring Groundhog Day, the Legislature should attack abortion at its root cause: unintended pregnancy. Proven strategies that reduce abortion include enhanced education, access to birth control and support of clinics like Clear Choice Clinic where the focus is informed decision making. Practical solutions drive intended results; alternatively, uniformed decision making and reckless attacks on our foundational documents threaten our Montana values and way of life.   

Tammi Fisher is an attorney, former mayor of Kalispell and host of Montana Values Podcast.

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