The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Kerry flunks Supreme Court 101

When it comes to appealing to swing voters, a (the?) Democratic banker [1] has for some time been the threat that a Republican president would appoint anti-abortion judges to the US Supreme Court just itching to overturn Roe v Wade and throw the women of America on the tender mercies of the several states.

Kerry himself put out a misleading ad on the subject a few weeks ago (discussed here on April 26). He talked about the issue before (though not at) the big demo in Washington.

However, Ron Fournier of AP today has bad news for the NARAL-ites: Kerry, it seems, does not grasp the first rule of Supreme Court appointments:
As to abortion, Kerry said he has voted in favor of "any number of judges who are prolife or pro-something else that I may not agree with," some of whom were nominated by Republican presidents.

Asked whether they must agree with his abortion-rights views, he quickly added: "I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 court who's about to undue (sic) Roe v. Wade. I've said that before."

The phenomenon of faithless electors in the Electoral College has its counterpart in those appointed to the Court as conservatives who appear to lurch (or slide) left - like Harry Blackmun, David Souter or our very own Injustice O'Connor (or vice versa - Byron White, for instance.)

(I suspect that, in most cases, there was no real shift in outlook; that, say, the conservatism of Souter was mere wishful thinking of the appointing (Bush the Elder's) administration.)

Given the number of permutations, it's impossible right now to armchair-quarterback how a putative President Kerry should work appointments to the Court. But, even if the Dems get the Senate back, their campaign of obstructing Bush judicial appointments would no doubt prove to have been instructive to the GOP, and prove a justification (or pretext) for reprisals in kind.

Kerry is not going to get rabid pro-abortionists onto the Court. He will need trimmers and equivocators to get the Senatorial nod: and these are not the kind of folks by whose assurances about their future conduct a wise Roe-loving president should set much store.

  1. Not all bankers prove solvent!


Murdoch's New York Post, with the same story, resorts to the F-word. Flip-flop, that is.

Last year, Kerry vowed to "filibuster, if necessary," to block any Supreme Court nominee who's anti-choice. Now he's ready to nominate the kind of judge that he'd already pledged to filibuster to block.

The Post has a theory for this:
Maybe Kerry is eyeing swing conservative Catholics in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

What is the offer?
  • Instead of losing on Roe 6-3, I'll make it less humiliating for anti-abortionists by narrowing the margin to 5-4?

  • If the Court is down to 5-4, who knows? One of the justices could completely go off his tree, and flip over to your side!

Surely Kerry should be explaining himself on this sometime soon...

(The polling on abortion - piece of April 27 - shows that the current state of American opinion on the subject is like the state of the law: provisoes rule!

There is no slam-dunk - even the Holy Grail of overturning Roe would not, I suspect, dramatically reduce the number of legal abortions - so why would Kerry even go there?)

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