Judges have invoked the Constitution needlessly to settle political disputes better left to other branches of government, Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III said Friday.
In a speech at a conference celebrating the bicentennial of the Constitution, Meese said that on the issue of abortion, "a proper reading of the Constitution finds that it does not explicitly endorse the position of either so-called 'pro-choice' or so-called 'pro-life.' "
"It succors neither the advocates of strict gun control laws nor their opponents, and it suffers neither the friends of balanced budgets or their enemies," he said.
The Reagan Administration has argued before the Supreme Court that women should not have a constitutionally protected right to abortion.
Meese also told the conference, sponsored by the American Studies Center, that there has been a trend in which "ordinary political disputes have been . . . 'constitutionalized.' "
He cited a 1974 case, Wyatt vs. Aderholt, in which the Supreme Court affirmed a District Court order requiring three state mental institutions in Alabama to provide specified levels of psychiatric care and treatment. The court declared that these directives represented constitutional minimums.
"One was asked to believe that the U.S. Constitution--not common sense, not Alabama law, not federal law, but the U.S. Constitution--prescribed detailed minimum standards of care for psychiatric patients," Meese said.