Roundup: The Supreme Court, and Supreme Irony

Robin Marty

How the Supreme Court battle is shaping up, and an anti-choicer refuses to be "intimidated" while trying to intimidate people.

The Supreme Court is going to be a huge factor in the upcoming years when it comes to reporductive healthcare.  With anti-choice activists and legislators working hard to push unconstitutional legislation in an attempt to reopen or overrule Roe V. Wade, the affect loss of Justice John Paul Stevens and his potential replacement is one of the key questions causing both prochoice and anti-choice supporters to wring their hands lately.

According to the LA Times, Stevens may be impossible to replace in an age where your stance on abortion seems to be more important than your actual judicial experience.

Stevens did not think judges should be on one side or the other of an ideological fight. He was a true judicial maverick.

Nowadays that word gets misused by the likes of Sarah Palin, who toes the ideological line every step of the way but calls herself a maverick because she likes to say outrageous things. Palin is a provocateur, not a maverick. Stevens resisted ideological ruts and blazed his own trail.

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American politics changed, and so did the court. In the late 1970s, the religious right became a major force in American politics. Ronald Reagan promised to appoint justices who would overturn Roe. Interest groups on the left and the right drew battle lines every time a Supreme Court vacancy occurred.

From then on, no president — Republican or Democrat — could choose Supreme Court nominees without paying attention to the abortion issue. And no nominee could survive the confirmation hearings without answering — or, more often, deflecting — a barrage of questions about Roe.

As a result, ideological categories hardened. The abortion issue came to define the court. If you know where a justice stands on abortion today, you can deduce, with very few exceptions, his or her positions on federalism, gun control, affirmative action, gay rights, campaign finance, tuition vouchers for religious schools — the list goes on and on. In 1975, that was not so.

Of course, the battle cry for a moderate justice who can be overwhelmingly supported by both sides of the aisle is coming mainly from the Republicans, who, as they become smaller and smaller in power seem to think that they should have a bigger say in the running of the country.  As Jeff Schweitzer writes at Huffington Post:

GOP leaders are insisting that President Obama must nominate a moderate justice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens; they want a mainstream jurist who will decide cases impartially. And in other news, Republicans demand that Democrats give up the White House to Mitt Romney. The second demand is obviously ridiculous but has no less credibility than the first, which is real.

The first and most obvious response to the absurd Republican demand for moderation is: Antonin Scalia, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and John G. Roberts and Samuel Alito, appointed by George W. Bush. Their records prove these men to be anything but mainstream, as we shall see shortly. Their extremism was openly celebrated by the right during the nomination and consent process.

The second self-evident response is: President Obama won a national election, and he has the right to appoint justices who reflect his views. He won; Republicans lost. To the winner go the spoils, as they did with Reagan and Bush. But now that a Democrat is doing the nominating, Republicans want to change the rules of the game at half time. The Republicans are like a football team losing by two touchdowns, demanding that the referees declare that a win is valid only if by three touchdowns. They piously demand fidelity to rules when they are ahead, and then dismiss those same rules as irrelevant when losing.

In light of the GOP’s overt push to seat far-right conservative judges on the Supreme Court with not even a nod to moderation when Republicans occupied the White House, we can only conclude the right’s demand now for a mainstream judge is funny. Otherwise if the GOP were serious, the outrageous and transparently cynical call would be too sad to contemplate.

Anti-choicers are holding their breath that the administration’s cave to anti-choice politicians during healthcare reform might be a sign that pushing a pro-choice nominee isn’t something President Obama is ready to fight over.  As such, they’re going out of their way to call frontrunners Diane Wood and Elana Kagan “pro-aborts.”

Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, told the Washington Post today that Wood’s pro-abortion record is “her Achilles’ heel.”

“It tells you that she’s probably not going to be selected, because Obama doesn’t have the stomach for this to be about an abortion debate,” he said.


“In the past Kagan has been a strong supporter of the pro-abortion agenda. She has vigorously opposed the de-funding of taxpayer-funded clinics which promote abortions, despite the fact that a majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars to fund abortion providers.”

Of course, the “pro-abort” attacks seem to be religated to the women front runners.  Anti-choicers appear to be more comfortable with potential prochoice justices as long as they are male.

Irony Alert: When told he will be expelled from college for refusing to turn graphic anti-abortion signs inward instead of facing out into the public, student Cameron Wilson replied, “[O]ur conviction shall not change and we shall not alter our actions based on intimidation.”  Um, Cameron, aren’t you in fact trying to change other people’s actions via intimidation?

April 19, 2010

Kenya: Using the Law, We Can Reduce the Number of Abortions –

SCOTUS: Diane Wood and abortion –

Oklahoma City marks 15 years since bombing – The Associated Press

Foetuses ‘found dumped’ in India – BBC News

Nebraska Passes Controversial Abortion Ban – ABC News

GOP Ad Bashes “Stupak Sellouts,” Pro-Life Democrats Backing Pro-Abortion Bill –

Bringing humanity back to the abortion debate – Washington Post

US: Obama Criticised for Health Package Abortion Ban – Inter Press Service

Black Pro-Life Leaders Launch Historic Freedom Rides to Stop Abortions –

U of C may expel anti-abortion protesters –

GG accepts anti-abortion activist’s resignation from Order of Canada – Winnipeg Free Press

Diane Wood Maybe Too Pro-Abortion for Obama Nomination to Supreme Court –

Abortion bill appears dead; supporters blame Gardiner’s ‘cowardice’ –

TN Senate approves abortion measure – The Tennessean

Senate OKs ultrasound, other anti-abortion bills – CNBC

10-year-old’s pregnancy fuels Mexican abortion debate – CNN International

Okla. lawmakers approve several abortion bills – The Associated Press

Fight brewing over McDonnell health care cuts – Washington Examiner

Why We Should Care about Family Planning this Earth Day –

Meddling in Other People’s Sex Lives – Psychology Today

Compassionate Care compliance lags – Wisconsin Radio Network

Family planning blues – Philippine Star

Wisconsin teachers on the hot seat for teaching birth control – Yakima Herald-Republic

The Birth-Control Riddle – Wall Street Journal

With AIDS, Time to Get Beyond Blame – New York Times

‘Project Runway’ Designer in D.C. to Educate About Living with HIV and Combat … – MarketWatch

Maternal Deaths – New York Times

April 20, 2010

Week’s Funniest Joke: GOP Demands Obama Nominate Mainstream Candidate to … – Huffington Post

Justice Stevens will not be easily replaced – Los Angeles Times

Human fetuses found near garbage dump –

Abortion Bill Heads to Governor – Nashville Public Radio

Senate debates, passes five abortion measures – Tulsa World

Pregnant girl sparks abortion debate –

Strict New Neb. Abortion Law Faces Long Legal Road – New York Times

Southworth’s arguments not worth much – UW Badger Herald

Playing politics with dying mothers – Globe and Mail

The Evolution of Birth Control – Newsweek

African Leaders to Carve Out Solutions for Child and Maternal Health – SOS Children’s Villages Canada

Track Change program hopes to reduce the risk – Indian Country Today

Sexual network campaign stigmatises HIV patients – Daily Monitor

Morphine Might Protect Brain Against HIV Dementia – HIV/AIDS Treatment News

Childbirth Deaths Are Falling Worldwide, But Not in the US – Politics Daily

Utah’s Feticide Law Puts Miscarriage on Trial – Women’s eNews

In Effort to Limit C-Sections, Two Methods Yield Different Results on Staten … – New York Times

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