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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Paul Benjamin Linton, J.D.

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

Gordon: Where do you attend Mass?

Paul: I usually go to church at The Chapel of the Holy Spirit in Techny which is the headquarters of the Divine Word Missionaries.  It's a beautiful, European- style chapel.

Gordon: You are an exceptionally well-published attorney. I remember reading an article by you on How Not to Overturn Roe v Wade in First Things nearly fifteen years ago, What initially attracted you to the legal profession as a career?

Paul: The opportunity to debate issues.

Gordon: Where did you attend law school?

Gordon: What was the most challenging course that you had?

Gordon: You have an impressive record as a pro-life advocate. Could you discuss some of the issues that you addressed when serving as General Counsel. Americans United for Life?

Paul: While I was at AUL, I was engaged in both legislative and litigation efforts to promote the pro-life cause. The legislative work included drafting model bills regulating abortion and protecting the rights of unborn children in other areas of law (for example, fetal homicide laws and wrongful death laws), as well as consulting on legislation involving abortion and advance directives (living wills, durable powers of attorney for health care).  The litigation covered a broad range of abortion regulations, including parental notice and consent statutes, funding restrictions, informed consent and waiting periods, clinic regulations, and other measures.  It also covered defending laws prohibiting assisted suicide, including the New York and Washington State laws upheld by the Supreme Court in Vacco v. Quill (1997) and Washington v. Glucksberg (1997).  At AUL, I submitted amicus curiae ("friend-of-the-court") briefs in dozens of cases in the United States Supreme Court, the federal courts of appeals, and many state appellate and supreme courts. 

Gordon: What are some of the pro-life challenges that you have addressed after your tenure at Americans United for Life?

Paul: After leaving AUL to go into my own practice, I also served for many years as Special Counsel for The Thomas More Society which provided the major funding for the research and writing of my book evaluating abortion rights claims under state constitutions.  As Special Counsel for the Thomas More Society, I submitted amicus curiae briefs in the Supreme Court defending the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of American (2007), as well as the efforts of the Bush Administration to prevent the use of controlled substances in assisted suicide, Gonzales v. Oregon (2005).  I also wrote many briefs in the Texas Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court defending the constitutionality of the Texas "Prenatal Protection Act," which I had drafted. 

In addition to the seventeen law review articles, I have published on a variety of issues (abortion, assisted suicide, criminal law, state and federal constitutional law, state equal rights amendments, sex discrimination, same-sex marriage), I have also published many articles in journals of opinion, including the Human Life Review and First Things

Gordon: I remember purchasing your book Abortion under State Constitutions: A State-by-State Analysis from Amazon shortly after reading the review of it in Time Magazine What prompted you to write this book?

Paul: There seemed to be a need for a comprehensive analysis of abortion rights claims under state constitutions, and to evaluate the issues that would likely arise in state constitutional litigation over abortion.

Gordon: Pope Francis' outreach to the pro-life community was well reported by the media. Many of us have a commitment to preventing abortion, but we seldom see that same commitment to the full spectrum of pro-life challenges including the care of orphans, abolishing human trafficking, elder abuse, veteran suicides. and assisted suicide.  What can individual churches do to expand interest in and support for these challenges?

Paul: Emphasize the importance of the dignity and value of all human life at all stages in all conditions.

Gordon: Would you share your observations on the Planned Parenthood fetal tissue sales?

Paul: I know only what I have heard or read about it, but that suggests the cold and crassly commercial nature of their business.

Denise: What impact did the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade have on the traditional authority of States to prohibit abortion?

Paul: Under Roe, all state laws prohibiting abortion were invalid.

Denise: Prior to Roe, how many States prohibited most abortions throughout pregnancy?

Paul: Approximately two-thirds of the States.

Denise  Since Roe, how many States have passed laws that would ban abortion when Roe is overruled?

Paul: Ten.

Denise:  When the Supreme Court overrules Roe, how does that impact its other abortion decisions, such as informed consent, public funding, and parental notice?

Paul: There would be no federal constitutional right to abortion, so the States would be free to regulate and even prohibit abortion as they deemed appropriate, subject only to any state constitutional limitations.

Denise: Of the current nine Supreme Court Justices (September 2020), how many are likely to vote to overrule Roe?

Paul: Four, at most.

Denise and Gordon: Your leadership in all of the pro-life challenges that we face on a daily basis is a blessing and deeply appreciated.


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