Benning: anti-Roe Supremes lied, Ethan Allen “hailing a cab out of town”

Ethan Allen Statute outside Vermont State House
Hailing a cab?

by Sen. Joe Benning

 A very long time ago I first got to visit Fort Ticonderoga.  Included in the museum’s collection was the saber of Ethan Allen, which had a fierce looking dog’s head on the pommel.  In Ethan’s most famous statue he wears that sword on his left hip, while his right hand is (according to the sculptor) raised in the defense of liberty.  As I come to recognize the true significance of the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, I’m wondering if he’s now instead hailing a cab out of town.

Sen. Joe Benning

The Dobbs decision eliminates a fifty-year-old federally-recognized constitutional right to privacy, couched in terms of reproductive rights, and reverts the issue back to the states.  While some celebrate victory, the idea that a federally recognized right to privacy could so easily be removed from federal jurisprudence is nothing to celebrate. My constitutional law professor at Vermont Law School, Professor Peter Teachout, calls this walk-back of a formerly recognized federal right “profound.”  To understand why he’s right, let’s remove the underlying issue from the discussion and focus solely on the process.

First recall the last three appointees to the Court repeatedly assuring senators during intake interviews that they considered the liberty/privacy issue in Roe v. Wade as “settled law.”  They lied.  There is no other way to spin it.  They had an agenda. If you support that agenda, maybe you’re prepared to ignore those lies. What’s the big deal, right? 

The “big deal” is that the US Supreme Court is this Constitutional Republic’s final arbiter of all controversies.  Discipline in maintaining legal concepts, particularly when they run counter to a justice’s personal preference, is the only way the people can be assured that controversies can be put to bed.  This is especially significant when it comes to recognized constitutional rights. Another group celebrating this week believes certain gun right controversies have been put to bed.  The Dobbs Court has just proven those “settled” gun rights can be “unsettled” by the political winds associated with the next court appointees.  Our Constitutional Republic’s foundation has just cracked.

Most disturbing is the concurring opinion of Justice Clarence Thomas.  A Justice clearly on a mission, his ponderings signal other current rights he’d unsettle.  His list includes whether there should be a federally recognized right to privacy in the use of contraceptives.  Perhaps this will finally make ambivalent men more cognizant of why pro-choice advocates have been clinging to the Roe decision.  Put squarely:  Gentlemen, do you really want government involved in whether you can wear a condom? 

So I find myself disappointed and concerned with the Dobbs decision.  Disappointed in that a constitutional right has been walked back, something I cannot recollect ever happening before.  Concerned because we can no longer rely on the US Supreme Court as being a place where law is ever “settled.”

Ethan Allen fought for Vermont to become the 14th State believing the Union would better protect individual liberty. That noise you hear is a dog-headed saber rattling in its scabbard.

The author is a Lyndonville resident, state senator for Caledonia County, and candidate for lieutenant governor.

Categories: Commentary

24 replies »

  1. Just ANOTHER reason why we wont be voting for Benning this year. Besides his cherry-picking of information on issues and his BOLD support of Prop 5. Besides his OPEN derision and mockery of anyone who voted for President Trump.

    Dear Mr Benning , the original Roe v Wade was based off of a HUGE series of lies and bad science. We know that now. ANd, for anyone to not view a Human Life as HUMAN , in the womb, is truly beyond the pale.

    • Joe why do you use the childish rhetoric of the Left? They LIED. They have an AGENDA. Instead of discussing the merits of the decision, you personally attack them. This is also even less credible when you are silent about Biden’s daily whoppers, the lies told daily by the Left on issues such as abortion, gun control, the border, climate change. Silence. And how about the corruption of the Democrats who repeatedly call the Supreme Court illegitimate? Why don’t you call them out? If you are concerned about lies and agendas, then call out everyone. And of course, you fail to mention that there is another life to be considered in an abortion. Unmentionable. And you have taken up the Left’s racist slanders against the uppity Black man on the court. It sounds like you didn’t even read his occurrence, only mimicked Left talking points. Justice Thomas is a brilliant principled jurist whom Democrats hate because he “ ain’t Black”, to quote our illustrious President. Finally, the hypocrisy of a unenumerated “right” . The Left wailed at the expansion of the First and Second Amendments, both enumerated rights, and then wailed at the court’s decision that abortion is not a constitutional right— a principled position which you can disagree with, but by questioning their motives and personally attacking them, instead of engaging in serious discussion, you have lost credibility on this one.

  2. I applaud Senator Benning’s alarm at the Supreme Court’s decision regarding “Roe vs. Wade”. Let us not forget that this 5-4 decision was only possible due to Donald Trump’s, an individual who continues to perpetuate the “Big Lie” and trample the Constitution, packing the Court. Elections do matter, and we indeed get the government we deserve.

  3. Joe, you seem to think that human judges are infallible and clearly have no concept of original intent that every law student learns during freshman term. Which Article or Amendment is it that gives someone the right to terminate a life? You should understand the basic tenant of our founding documents is protection of Life, Liberty, and Property.

    • Well said. when a decision is made using untrue data then it makes sense to change things when that info becomes available. I thank God for the moral fortitude it takes to say ‘right or wrong’. 6-3 for Dobbs and 5-4 to negate Roe vs Wade.

  4. Does Senator Benning lack the intellect to understand the Dobbs decision? Or does he lack the integrity to admit that it was a legally sound decision that he disagrees with morally?

    Or more likely – is he just pandering and fearmongering to get elected?

    I think we all know the answer!

  5. I just can’t get over the fact that he compares an abortion to wearing a condom.

    That is quite simply a new low even for you Mr Benning.

  6. I guess for Joe Benning the human right to privacy regarding bodily autonomy and medical decisions doesn’t apply to having the government force citizens to inject themselves with experimental and deadly mRNA “vaccines” as a condition of employment and a condition of entry into private business and public spaces. Joe. Your hypocrisy stinks up my beloved state of Vermont from Brattleboro to Derby Line.

  7. Again with the ridiculous canard about birth control. We’ve always known that the more absurd the comparison, the more shrill the voice and the more dire the prediction, the weaker the Left’s actual case would be. This is more of the same.

    The equally absurd “but they lied!” argument is just insulting as well. Not a single Senator voted for any of President Trump’s nominees thinking they were pro-Roe. And not one of those nominees promised to uphold it. (As a special added bonus, all three of those nominees would likely be able to explain the difference between a man and a woman, so there’s that.)

    Less than two weeks ago Senator Benning talked up his “conservative” bona fides live on the radio. Apparently his definition of “conservative” and the definition held by actual conservatives differ dramatically.

  8. Well Joe– If THEY “lied” then the other Liberal appointees did also as THEY claimed Heller was “settled law” but THEN voted against 2nd Amendment decisions! So Joe, was Dred Scott “settled law”? How about ALL the other segregationist laws that were overturned like Brown V Board of Ed.? I thought you had a BRAIN, they take the cases in front of them & determine the constitutionality of them AT THIS TIME, fool! Hell..I like old Ethan Allen as much as the next guy but wasn’t he a drunken land thief from Conn. who spent the Revolutionary War entertaining the British as a prisoner? Who and how much did he PAY for all his “land holdings” Joe? The New Yorkers or New Hampshire owners? Oh right! He & his “family” (& a slave or two?) DROVE off every Sheriff that tried to “evict” them! If THIS is the guy you admire so much I think THAT says it all.

  9. I stood in for Gregory Thayer at a Lieutenant Governor forum Saturday the 25th in Rockingham VT.
    Let me make two points ; I was the Platform Delegate from Chittenden County for the VTGOP, and I am an advisor to Mr. Thayer. ( along with being a very good friend )

    I resigned from the VTGOP in part because Dame, Koch and two thirds of the State GOP membership at State meetings support Mr. Benning, Governor Scott, and State Representatives Sheuermann, Walker, Martin, Leffler and Beck. All have voted for or support Prop 5, now Article 22.

    I wrote two amendments that would have given the State GOP a method to remove any support or endorsement from these people, and from any elected official or candidate that violated the Rules in the State GOP Platform. The language in the conclusion of the Platform states ;
    ” While individual Republicans may hold diverse opinions in some areas, such differences should not deflect from advancing the principles that unite us as a party. ”

    Couldn’t be any clearer, but when I raised the issue of these seven people doing exactly what the Platform says cannot happen, Dame and Koch stood to defend them.
    Mr. Benning’s choice of words to describe my efforts to remove people who clearly have betrayed their responsibility to the Republican Party are ” we can’t have a circular firing squad. ”
    Words parroted by Rules Committee Chair Tom Koch.
    Except they aren’t directed to remove Republicans from the Legislature, they are intended to remove people who vote for and support democrat, liberal and socialist agendas but claim to be Republicans.

    Last Saturday Mr. Benning told everyone in attendance, he supports Prop 5. He has voted for it twice and will vote for it in November.

    Now Mr. Benning appears to be clairvoyant. Because despite the denials from the Supreme Court Justices that they lied to Senators during their interviews, Mr. Benning has convicted them.

    Mr. Benning sites Ethan Allen fighting to protect Individual Liberty. Ironically Mr Benning and those supporting Prop 5/Article 22 take the individual liberty of the Parents and Health Care Workers who would fight to protect their children away from them and gives it to the State. Not only that, it would criminalize any Parent or Health Care worker that tries to protect the child.

    The biggest error Mr. Benning has made is pushing the lie that Roe V Wade was a Federally Recognized Constitutional Right. Roe V Wade was never Constitutional. One would think a Lawyer would understand that.

  10. As a Vermonter, born and raised, I am surprised and disappointed that Mr. Benning a non-Vermonter would trash the Supreme Court decision by invoking a Vermont hero such as Ethan Allen. I would rather believe that Ethan Allen would protect an unborn child in the name of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Life is the same in the whom as it is after birth. Life is life. Standing up for those too young to speak or not yet born is what Ethan Allen would have done.

    Mr. Benning always employs some story about his love of Vermont in a ploy to touch the feelings of those Vermonters who he wants votes from. A person who can explain away why it’s alright to kill a healthy baby in the whom fails to understand that there are two bodies in play, not one. Fort Ticonderoga and Ethan Allen have nothing to do with the correct decision made by the court. Could Mr. Benning point to where the abortion right is located in the Bill of Rights? No, because it’s not there or anywhere else in the document. To add an amendment to the Constitution requires 3/4 of the state legislatures to vote on and pass the amendment to create that right. This is why it doesn’t appear in the document and was added in theory only by a liberal court at the time.

    How can anyone who claims to be a republican and a lawyer not understand that abortion up to nine full months is murder. It’s no longer a fetus as they like to call it. The word fetus defined actually means off-spring. It’s not reproductive health either. There’s nothing healthy about dismembering a baby that is full term and ready to be born. And worst of all is that abortion is still legal and has not been banned. What has been banned is the arbitrary making up rights that don’t exist in the federal constitution. The court ruled that the people in each state should decide based on the morels or lack thereof in each state if abortion should be legal. This is spelled out in the tenth amendment in the Bill of Rights:
    The Tenth Amendment “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”. This is what the court decided, and Mr. Benning should know this and that previous SC cases have been overturned as unconstitutional.

    Whatever Mr. Benning believes is his right but invoking a Vermont folk hero to make his point is pandering. While he has a right to say whatever he wishes, we have a right to vote for someone else who does not believe the same.

    • Dano: Mr. Benning did much more than trash the Supreme Court decision. He accused some of the justices of lying.

      What Benning actually wrote here on VDC is as follows:
      “They lied. There is no other way to spin it. They had an agenda. If you support that agenda, maybe you’re prepared to ignore those lies. What’s the big deal, right?”

      If they had lied, it would be a big deal. But Benning is more guilty of lying to VDC readers than justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett were in their sworn testimony to the Senate. But don’t just believe me. Read FactCheck’s (anything but a proponent of conservative dogma) account of their testimony.

      I was on the fence about supporting Mr. Benning in the upcoming election. Now I’m off that fence and would never support a man who, in my opinion, has not only libeled these justices, but misinformed his constituency, and accused those who support the SCOTUS decision of being complicitly dishonest too. It doesn’t matter if Mr. Benning is merely ignorant of constitutional jurisprudence, patently and politically dishonest, or some of both. His judgement is flawed in this case. And I won’t risk having a person like him representing anything involving my socio-political responsibilities.

      • Well Jay, I used the word trashed because it encompasses more than one issue. After reading the senate hearings and testimony of the three justices accused of lying by Mr. Benning it seems apparent that he parroted what others were saying instead of doing the research to find out what they actually said. Being a republican in name only makes it is difficult to explain voting for Joe Biden of which he did. Also, supporting a radical constitutional amendment to our already perfect Vermont constitution only proves that these progressive politicians continue to violate their oaths of office by harming our constitution. And, by furthering the progressive destruction of this once independent, conservative state. Pointing to the lies supposedly spoken by the 3 justices will be just as difficult as pointing to a right in the US constitution that is not there and never was.

  11. Why does Joe Benning call himself a Republican? He has already shown himself to be a Marxist/Socialist/Progressive on the subject of abortion. He voted against Life as he voted to approve the most recent Vermont Abortion Abomination Bill for so-called “personal reproductive liberty.”

    This Vermont Abomination Bill Proposal 5: (Article 22) completely ignores the subject of the lives of human babies as well as the affects to other miner-age categories. The Bill is written in loose, grey language with the ability to be widely interpreted.

    Just ask Joe about the Abomination Bill. He’ll be glad to tell you, because he’s very haughty, arrogant and proud about his actions. He brags about it as a great accomplishment. This IS our past Vermont Human Rights Commission Chairperson. I guess for Joe, Human Babies don’t have Human Rights?

    NOW, he calls himself a lawyer while he doesn’t seem to be able to read and understand the Basics of our US and Vermont Constitutions. The present Supreme Court Justices are finally paying attention to Constitutional Language and honestly acknowledging mistake(s). Mr. Benning has called them out and calls them liars for having the courage to do what is Constitutionally Right in giving this issue to the US States where it belongs.

    You can keep hiding out with the majority of the Vermont State Republican Party made up of RHINOS Joe. They openly welcome you. I do hope you realize, Vermont Voters are paying attention. They can recognize an Anti-American, Anti-Life RHINO when they see one.

    Vermont Voters! If you value your Freedom and our Constitutional Republic form of Government, don’t Vote for Joe the RHINO for Vermont Lieutenant Governor. He doesn’t serve and/or Protect Human Rights.

    Vote for a REAL REPUBLICAN and Strong PRO-LIFE, PRO-FREEDOM ADVOCATE. VOTE for Gregory Thayer for Vermont Lieutenant Governor!

    Another EQUALLY PRO-LIFE, PRO-FREEDOM, REAL REPUBLICAN Candidate is Gerald Malloy. VOTE for Gerald Malloy for US Senate!

  12. Good grief. They didn’t “lie” (which is the new tactic used by Progressives to discredit the Court). Whether they considered it settled law or not, any statements for candidates for the Court will not forecast future decisions. The late progressive Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as she explained in 1993. “It would be wrong for me to say or preview in this legislative chamber how I would cast my vote on questions the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide,” she said. “A judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints, for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process.” That’s been the response from all nominated Justices. Joe Bennington needs to revisit his claim.

    • Precisely, Lawrence. Thank you for doing your homework. Joe Benning (not Bennington) needs a little introspection while revisiting his claim. Unfortunately, I suspect he knows better – which will be more than evident if he chooses to not respond your point.

  13. Oh gracious …and this is the perspective of a knowledgeable legally trained fellow citizen who represents us and has stepped forth as a candidate for Lt Governor. Sen. Benning maybe it’s just me and my own biases but I think there are folks out here in your constituency base who have a totally different take on all this:
    1St. You lament that “the idea that a federally recognized right to privacy could so easily be removed from federal jurisprudence” Wasn’t the issue that the constitutional source of this “right” is what has been in question for the last 40ish years and was just reviewed with the determination that this actually has no constitutional standing…and that the people and their legislators need to step up and engage it?
    2nd. You tell us that “…three appointees to the Court repeatedly assuring senators during intake interviews that they considered the liberty/privacy issue in Roe v. Wade as “settled law.” They lied. There is no other way to spin it. …we can no longer rely on the US Supreme Court as being a place where law is ever “settled.” Confusion here: Wasn’t their testimony that standing by things already decided, Stare Decisis, was understood by them and would prevail in their decision making unless… THE ISSUE WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL…like Dred Scott and apparently some other SC corrections?
    3rd. You tell us the “The “big deal” is that the US Supreme Court is this Constitutional Republic’s final arbiter of all controversies.” It’s my impression that this court is proceeding from the proposition that the citizenry and their legislative representatives can no longer punt and expect the judicial branch to clean up for them. The contending parties can’t escape the civic need to convert each other…or amend the constitution. The court is no longer going to rescue them from their responsibility.
    4th. You remind us that the “Discipline in maintaining legal concepts, particularly when they run counter to a justice’s personal preference, is the only way the people can be assured that controversies can be put to bed. This is especially significant when it comes to recognized constitutional rights.” Again, aren’t the decisions coming down making the point — what are and aren’t recognized constitutional rights without impact from personal preferences? Isn’t this the originalist’s agenda? …refocus the agenda on the constitution and citizens fulfill your self-governing aspirations?

    • vcurtishuntergmailcom: I’m encouraged that you, and other commentors, have a learned understanding of the workings of our constitutional republic and the where-with-all to express it. Mr. Benning would do well to pay more attention to reality rather than continue to ‘spin’ it himself.

  14. I was in attendance on the 25th because I wanted to hear Mr Benning speak again and I wanted to hear what Greg Thayer had to offer to the people in the state of Vermont as our next lieutenant governor.

    I was very disappointed that Greg wasn’t able to attend because of a family emergency.

    Jim Sexton stood in and read Greg’s answers and after listening to both candidates I realize that Joe Benning is a well polished politician and a long time attorney.

    I also realized that Greg Thayer has some great credentials to serve as our lieutenant governor and take a look at everything going on that could result in saving us tax dollars by reducing expenses in Montpelier.

    I also listened to the debate at the Paramount a few weeks back and I was in disbelief at the way Greg Thayer was attacked by Joe Benning for practicing his constitutional rights.

    Since when does a senator, claiming to be a Republican, in the state of Vermont who claims to be the big supporter of the Constitution of not only Vermont but the United States of America attack Republican opponent because Greg decided to be in attendance at the capital of the United States of America on January 6th to witness history.

    I’m sure that no one had any idea what would be happening at the Capitol that day and it’s all very sketchy even today in spite of the made for TV double feature drama that the American people paid $8 million to produce to try to place the blame on Donald Trump for what happened on January 6th.

    As an attorney who claims to be a supporter of the Constitution how could Republican senator Mr Benning along with Republican senator Randy Brock file a motion along with the house to remove Donald Trump from office on January 8th…

    This was posted by senator Keisha Ram from the Democratic party on Twitter. I’m sure she was really excited to slap the Republican voters in the state of Vermont in the face.

    I no longer have the ability to post on senator Joe Benning’s Twitter page ,..he has blocked me. Joe doesn’t like to hear from people who don’t agree with his jaded point of view and hatred for the real Republicans in the state of Vermont.

    Joe doesn’t like to deal with the contraversial issues he started when he decided to attack people who supported president Trump and started insulting Republicans because of that.

    The issues I raised with Joe where the following:

    As a successful attorney Mr Benning you should know that on January 8th you are not capable of making such a foolish call for the Republicans in the state of Vermont to denounce president Trump. I can’t lay all the blame on you because I know Patty McCoy, Brian Collamore, Josh Terenzini, Tom Burditt and other RINOS we’re involved in the stupidity.

    I asked you as an attorney without knowing any facts, without president Trump having any right to due process, which is afforded to him by our constitution, why would you do anything so ignorant.

    In our discussion at the Paramount after the debate you told me I should be watching the January 6th committee hearings…. Joe anyone in their right mind could be watching South Park and getting more facts and I told you that.

    I also went on to ask you how you liked our country now that our governor Phil Scott voted for Joe Biden and you offer support to that same party.

    I said if you really cared about the world you could look around and see the destruction being done to the state of Vermont and to the United States of America.

    You may think it’s a joke but I find it disgusting with you and those that support your liberal agenda have done to the state of Vermont where I have resided all of my life.

    I could go on and on but I’m going to close with this.

    At the meeting in Rockingham on Saturday you said we have circled the wagons and we have the Scott Republicans shooting at the Trump Republicans so all we are doing is shooting at each other.

    First of all I’m really confused as to how you can equate Governor Phil Scott who voted for Joe Biden with the Republican party.

    I went on to tell you it was because of your decision to slap the face of real Republicans in this state, doing what you did, that all of the problems that are taking place in the Republican party in the state of Vermont today our result of your ignorant decisions.

    I asked you to please apologize to everyone in the state of Vermont for such a foolish move and tell them that you would work hard to bring this Republican party back together.

    You just marked at me and said it will never happen..

    Vermonters wake up we have an intelligent young man capable of going to Montpelier Vermont as our lieutenant governor and doing some hard work on our taxes and waste in our government.

    I’m asking everyone to get behind Greg Thayer and help him make changes in a failing State under the leadership of people Governor Phil Scott and Joe Biden.

    • Benning clearly makes up “his own truth.” To him and other RHINOS, a Republican is whatever you want them to be. Much like gender dysphoria, RHINOS have political party dysphoria.

  15. I fail to see why anyone would have confidence that a person who has such a low view of children deemed unwanted would somehow actually have an interest in those he is claiming to want to serve and represent. Surely he will turn his back on another adult, whom he owes nothing to, as he will on a baby. I do have this question for Mr. Benning, presuming you have children: Which child of yours are you able to look in the eye and say that had that son or daughter been conceived in a circumstance that Mr. Benning find abortion a moral solution, it would have been okay to end that child’s life? That is what those who embrace abortion must answer to their own children and if they say, “not for my child, but only other children,” does that not reveal he holds an elitist, caste-type mentality. Just as with human slavery, apathy is compliance.

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