Why a Promise to Appoint Constructionist Judges is Not Enough
By Leon H Wolf Posted in 2008 — Comments (24) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Needless to say, it is too early to call a "frontrunner" for the Republican nomination in 2008, but virtually every self-selecting poll that has been conducted thus far has given handy leads to either former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, or (when included) Secretary of State Condolezza Rice. Conventional wisdom (which I believe, in this case) says that Rice will not run - it is almost certain that Rudy will. Evidence of Rudy's momentum abounds; I recently had an email exchange with a fellow conservative, who relayed the substance of a conversation he just had with a "self-described social conservative, pro-life, pro-marriage, etc":
She loves Rudy. She thinks Rudy will govern as a conservative. She is seized with the idea that Rudy was a staunch conservative during his mayorship of NYC. She believes that Rudy will become a social conservative during the course of his 2008 campaign. She is utterly unconcerned with Rudy's pro-gay, pro-abortion politics -- which he has espoused through his past QUARTER-CENTURY OF PUBLIC LIFE -- because Rudy is "inspiring" and "will keep America safe."
She likes Rudy despite his being pro-abortion.
But she dislikes Brownback because he's "bad on immigration."
The healing salve that is commonly offered to social conservatives concerned about Rudy's position on a number of issues - abortion in particular - is that Rudy will inevitably promise on the campaign trail to appoint "strict constructionists" to the bench, and any strict constructionist worth his salt would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, so isn't that enough?
May I submit that it is not, for the following reasons...
In the first place, the record of Presidents who have made a similar commitment to appoint constructionist judges in the absence of a personal commitment to the pro-life cause has not been stellar. However, assuming arguendo that Rudy could be trusted to appoint Emilio Garza to replace Justice Stevens, and Roe fell, that would not by any means be the end of that particular story. Immediately into Congress would come a bill, sponsored by the Democrats, to write the basic tenets of Roe and Casey into codebooks. It is important to understand the political calculus behind this move.
The vast majority of the public does not support what Roe and its progeny stand for, as I have demonstrated here. However, due to a concentrated disinformation campaign about the true meaning of Roe, they have hoodwinked into thinking that they do. Therefore, it is likely that in the lull between when the decision is overturned, and the actual effect of it all settles in, the Democrats will seek immediately to capitalize on the issue. The pressure NARAL, et al will bring to bear will be enormous. At the Congress is currently constituted, I estimate that some measure or another (at least protecting abortion in the first three months absolutely) will likely pass.
The reason for this is simple: while it is simple for most of the Republicans in Congress to state pro-life positions when no significant votes are coming down the pipe, well under half of them have the personal commitment to pro-life principles that would allow them to withstand tremendous pressure from a coordinated campaign from the voters back home. Republicans in Northeastern states and Western states will be under a particular kind of pressure. Bottom line, a pro-abortion measure gets through the Congress in short order, especially if the Congress is under Democratic control, or smaller Republican margins.
What is needed, at that point, is a President with the personal pro-life convictions, and the long-range foresight to have the willingness to veto such a bill, and the strength to realize that things are going to be okay in the long-term. Bottom line: Rudy is not that candidate, and neither is Condolezza. It would be a cold comfort indeed for pro-lifers to support a candidate like Rudy based on a promise to appoint constructionist judges, only to have the legislative equivalent of Roe, which might leave the pro-life cause for dead as an issue, as it is in England.
It's too early to call anything for Rudy, or even to call him a frontrunner - but social conservatives need to wake up to the reality that everything will not be okay in a Rudy presidency, election-year platitudes aside. Let's nip this momentum in the bud, while we still have a chance.