On the legal backstory of the compelling state interest test

BRATTLEBORO — This op-ed poses a question that seems logical on its face - until one does a bit of research.

The “compelling state interest” test has been a part of Supreme Court case law since 1963 (Sherbert v. Verner) and 1972 (Wisconsin v. Yoder), where religious freedom was upheld in the absence of compelling state interest.

The Supreme Court incorporated this test in the Roe v. Wade decision: “Where certain 'fundamental rights' are involved, the Court has held that regulation limiting these rights may be justified only by a 'compelling state interest.'”

The Reproductive Liberty amendment, Article 22, which is on the ballot on Nov. 8, incorporates that legal test referenced in Roe, since overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, into the Vermont constitution. The compelling state interest language is the strongest legal protection that can be provided.

An individual's fundamental rights ought not to be usurped absent a “compelling state interest.” Let's ensure that principle is upheld in Vermont. Vote “yes” on Article 22.

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