Rule of Law Life Act


At the conclusion of the August 2019 Summer Study before the Judiciary Committee of the Tennessee Senate on Senate Bill 1236 (by Senator Mark Pody), known as the “heartbeat bill,” FACT President David Fowler was asked by the committee’s vice chair, Senator Jon Lundberg, to rework the bill in order to present to the committee the strongest pro-life bill possible, framed under the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in contrast to legislation framed under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 14th Amendment abortion jurisprudence.
mom holding infant

When the Bills Were Filed

The Rule of Law Life Act was filed by Sen. Janice Bowling as SB 1780 in the Tennessee General Assembly on National Sanctity of Human Life Day, Wednesday, January 22, 2020. The House companion version, HB 1962, was filed by Rep. Dan Howell on Tuesday, January 28, 2020.

What the Bill Does

Essentially the bill puts the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinions on abortion construing “liberty” under the 14th Amendment on a direct collision course with the exercise of the rights “retained” by the people under the Ninth Amendment, one of which was to secure their right at common law to life.

The Ninth Amendment says, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights [like Due Process in both the Fifth and 14th Amendments], shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

In the process, the legislation exposes the fact that the words “life, liberty, and property” in the 14th Amendment come from common law and have been given a tortured meaning by our “living Constitution” justices. The current five “original intent” justices will understand the point—the Court needs to return to the original meaning of these words.

How the Common Law Protects the Unborn

Throughout its history, the Court has looked to the common law and to Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law of England to define and understand the words used in the Constitution, so this approach to interpreting the Constitution is not new.

The common law was quite clear, per Blackstone, that “This natural life, being, as was before observed, the immediate donation of the great Creator, cannot legally be disposed of or destroyed by any individual, neither by the person himself, nor by any other of his fellow-creatures, merely upon their own authority.”

Moreover, according to Blackstone, “an infant en ventre sa mere, or in the mother’s womb, is supposed in law to be born for many purposes. It is capable of having a legacy, or a surrender of a copyhold estate made to it. It may have a guardian assigned to it; and it is enabled to have an estate limited to its use, and to take afterwards by such limitation, as if it were then actually born.”

The legislation’s insistence on the Constitution being given its original meaning and the word of the Constitution being treated as law, not judicial opinions, is why it is titled the Rule of Law Life Act.

Subscribe to Email Updates


Donate to FACT

Make a Donation