Roe v. Wade will raise its ugly head again this week
This week, President Trump will announce a Supreme Court nomination. Based on news reports, he will pick from a list of extremely competent people. In other words, any of these men or women would have easily been approved years ago. Some would have likely been approved on a voice vote, as was the case with two of President Eisenhower’s nominations.
That was then and this is now. Welcome to politics since Roe v. Wade.
Back in 2005, David Brooks commented on the Samuel Alito hearings, the first of two of President George W. Bush’s nominations:
Justice Harry Blackmun did more inadvertent damage to our democracy than any other 20th-century American. When he and his Supreme Court colleagues issued the Roe v. Wade decision, they set off a cycle of political viciousness and counter-viciousness that has poisoned public life ever since, and now threatens to destroy the Senate as we know it.
When Blackmun wrote the Roe decision, it took the abortion issue out of the legislatures and put it into the courts. If it had remained in the legislatures, we would have seen a series of state-by-state compromises reflecting the views of the centrist majority that’s always existed on this issue. These legislative compromises wouldn’t have pleased everyone, but would have been regarded as legitimate.
Instead, Blackmun and his concurring colleagues invented a right to abortion, and imposed a solution more extreme than the policies of just about any other comparable nation.
Religious conservatives became alienated from their own government, feeling that their democratic rights had been usurped by robed elitists. Liberals lost touch with working-class Americans because they never had to have a conversation about values with those voters; they could just rely on the courts to impose their views. The parties polarized as they each became dominated by absolutist activists.
Unable to lobby for their pro-life or pro-choice views in normal ways, abortion activists focused their attention on judicial nominations. Dozens of groups on the right and left have been created to destroy nominees who might oppose their side of the fight. But abortion is never the explicit subject of these confirmation battles. Instead, the groups try to find some other pretext to destroy their foes.
And destroy your foes is exactly what we will see starting this week.
The Democrats are so invested in defending Roe v. Wade that every question will be about it. They will ask in hundred of ways about whether or not the nominee plans to overturn “settled law”.
Sorry, but the 1973 decision was an opinion not a law. We want to put abortion to the test of the law. We are the ones who would love to see a debate in legislatures from coast to coast on abortion and same sex marriage. Roe v. Wade killed any chance of the people crafting a law or compromise.
So get ready for the ugliest side of our politics, or another debate about abortion.