July 22, 2005

Souter in Roberts' Clothing

Let me preface this by saying that I never thought I would be quoting Ann Coulter, here or at any other venue, unless I was going to follow that quote up with a series of disparaging remarks and possibly, for good measure, a few curse words. With that said, here goes:

Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever . . .

It means nothing that Roberts wrote briefs arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations. He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America. Roberts has specifically disassociated himself from those cases . . .

And it makes no difference that conservatives in the White House are assuring us Roberts can be trusted. We got the exact same assurances from officials working for the last president Bush about David Hackett Souter.

I believe their exact words were, "Read our lips; Souter's a reliable conservative."

Now, witness this, everybody. This is likely the only time that Ann Coulter and I will agree on anything. Savor the moment; it may never come again. But I agree with Coulter that we just can't know anything about Judge John G. Roberts, that he is a stealth nominee, and that the track record of Republican stealth nominees -- think Sandra Day O'Connor, David Souter, et al. -- is that they always end up being a giant disappointment for conservatives. And for God's sake, isn't it time to step up to the plate and say they're designed that way? With seven of nine justices on the Supreme Court appointed by Republican Presidents, isn't it time to say once and for all that the Republican political machine does not want to overturn Roe v. Wade?

But here's the catch: Nobody's paying attention. That's why he's a stealth nominee. The interest groups are reacting predictably; liberals are demanding either a down vote or a filibuster, and conservatives are demanding "fair process" and waxing triumphalistic in their sickening glee. And all the while, none of these people are seeing what Ann Coulter and I saw the minute they announced Judge Roberts as the nominee: that this man is not what President Bush promised in his campaign, he is not another Scalia or Thomas, and the Supreme Court will remain balanced and strongly in favor of Roe v. Wade. And I suspect that Ann Coulter stood at her TV or wherever she heard the news, as I did, mouth agape, and said: "Who the hell is John Roberts?" And that will be the question everyone is asking until the Senate confirmation hearings conclude, and probably afterward.

It's time to face the facts. The Republican Party doesn't want to overturn Roe v. Wade, and that's why we're now seeing Souter-regurgitated as the nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. When Chief Justice Rehnquist inevitably retires, the Republicans will throw their conservative base a bone by appointing Clarence Thomas the Chief Justice and by replacing Rehnquist with a hardline conservative like Judge Janice Rogers Brown, knowing the entire time that this will satisfy the conservative base without changing the actual balance of the court at all. But the fact of the matter is, neither political party really wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.

And why don't the Republicans want to overturn Roe v. Wade? It's not hard to figure out.

First, over half of the American people -- i.e., those people who elect them -- don't want Roe overturned. Actually overturning it could have political ramifications that would devastate the Republican Party for decades to come.

Second, actually overturning Roe v. Wade would deprive the Republican Party of a major hot button issue that serves to rally their conservative base. They would no longer be able to say that they're going to overturn Roe, it would be done, and a lot of the conservative voters who run to the polls because of Roe would sit at home on election day.

Third, no reasonable justice is going to overturn the strong precedents set by Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and other related cases -- which leaves only one alternative: an unreasonable justice who would have to radically reinterpret the Constitution with his radical view of "original intent," and that's not a justice that the Republicans actually want, it's just a justice that they talk about a lot.

Fourth, and finally, the Republican Party simply doesn't want Roe v. Wade gone. Come on -- with the abortion rate as high as it is, do you think liberals are the only ones getting abortions?

It's a masquerade, folks! And it's one the Republicans have been pulling off very well. But consider this: after more than thirty years and no legal successes against abortion whatsoever, why hasn't the Republican Party tried to amend the Constitution to prohibit abortion? They're willing to amend it to prohibit gay marriage -- why not abortion, which they claim is killing millions of innocent human beings? Because they don't want criminalized abortion! It's the only logical conclusion. If they're saying they want abortion to be illegal, but if they're not doing anything to make it illegal and they're not appointing justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, then they're saying one thing and doing quite another. In other words, they're lying! I know that must be a shocker, but it is what it is.

Meanwhile, the Democrats, for all of their faults (which are many), are at least honest about abortion. They want it to be legal. In that, they agree with a majority of Americans. And unlike the Republicans, when the Democrats want something -- typically, they go for it. Witness Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Do you think there's any ambiguity there about abortion? No! Ruth Bader Ginsburg is pro-choice, and she will never overturn Roe v. Wade. We knew that about her long before her confirmation hearings. God bless the Democrats for at least being honest about their position on abortion. But now, after four justices who will not overturn Roe v. Wade, and a fifth with a big question mark over his head -- isn't it time for the Republican electorate to start asking their elected officials why they're not going after what they say they're going to go after, like the Democrats do?