11 June 2008

McCain Means Anti-Choice

As a yellow-dog Democrat myself (that’s a party loyalist who would even vote for a yellow dog if it were running on the Democratic ticket), I sincerely hope that the Hillary Clinton supporters will ultimately decide that a vote for Barack Obama is their best choice in November. While I understand that emotions are running high, it still comes down to policies in the end. Will we be better off with Obama or McCain?

I anticipate arguments being made to Clinton supporters trying to convince them that Obama is a much better option--and I would like to do my small part in this post.

We need to all remember that the next president will probably appoint several Supreme Court justices. Who do we want making those critical selections? I made this same argument to Obama supporters back in February when it looked like Clinton might be the nominee. Even then, I believed all Democrats had to support the eventual nominee to advance our policy initiatives (even though both candidates were squishy centrists), and to take back the Supreme Court. At that time, some belligerent Obama supporters were threatening to leave the party if Clinton was the nominee—so our current problems might have been the same no matter who won the nomination.

So let’s look at a few articles regarding McCain’s views on abortion and a woman’s right to chose. This first selection is from McCain’s own website. It’s difficult to misinterpret these words. The bold highlights are mine.

Overturning Roe v. Wade
John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned
, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench. Constitutional balance would be restored by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion question to the individual states. The difficult issue of abortion should not be decided by judicial fiat. However, the reversal of Roe v. Wade represents only one step in the long path toward ending abortion. Once the question is returned to the states, the fight for life will be one of courage and compassion - the courage of a pregnant mother to bring her child into the world and the compassion of civil society to meet her needs and those of her newborn baby. The pro-life movement has done tremendous work in building and reinforcing the infrastructure of civil society by strengthening faith-based, community, and neighborhood organizations that provide critical services to pregnant mothers in need. This work must continue and government must find new ways to empower and strengthen these armies of compassion. These important groups can help build the consensus necessary to end abortion at the state level. As John McCain has publicly noted, "At its core, abortion is a human tragedy. To effect meaningful change, we must engage the debate at a human level."

This next short selection is a response to a Clinton supporter who plans to vote for McCain in November. Froma Harrop claims that McCain is really a moderate on the choice issue--buying into the maverick label that McCain is still attempting to utilize. Kevin Drum in the Washington Monthly utilizes a Steve Beren column and they both take Harrop to task.
McCAIN ON ABORTION....One of the inexplicable side effects of John McCain's maverick reputation is the number of people who believe — or, perhaps, desperately want to believe — that he's basically pretty moderate on abortion rights. Columnist Froma Harrop is one of them.

First, Harrop is willing to gamble, but pro-choice Democrats have to know better....[Harrop] concludes that McCain's voting record of complete and total opposition to reproductive rights for nearly a quarter century is insincere, and once in the White House, he'll suddenly transform into a moderate. This is sheer fantasy.

Second, McCain is going to great lengths to prove how completely wrong Harrop really is. Indeed, McCain is telling anyone who will listen that he'd be even further to the right than Bush on this issue, subtly criticizing Griswold, and by extension, the very notion of a right to privacy.

And third, it's utterly foolish to narrowly focus the inquiry to the Supreme Court. McCain is practically desperate to stack the court with more far-right justices — his active support for Bork wasn't an accident — but if we take a more general look at McCain and women's issues, we see that McCain will maintain the global gag order, supports the court's ruling on Ledbetter, has expressed no interest in civil rights protections for women, and has voted against everything from requiring health care plans to cover birth control to international family planning funding to public education for emergency contraception.

McCain tends to use soothing, nonconfrontational language when he talks about social issues, but his actual record on abortion is about as hardline conservative as you can get. A lot of moderates who like McCain seem to be averting their gaze from this and trying to persuade themselves that it's all just politics and the real McCain is a lot like them: not a big fan of abortion, maybe, but not really extreme about it either. Unfortunately, it ain't so. If McCain gets into office, his record is pretty clear: he'll do everything he can to reduce or eliminate access to abortion, starting with poor women and working his way up.

Finally, the Christian Science Monitor chimed in a few months ago on McCain’s possible judicial nominees. It is clear what kinds of judges McCain will appoint.

A particularly sore point has involved McCain's alleged liberal perspective on selecting federal judges, especially for the Supreme Court. But on this score, conservative fear is misplaced. A careful reading of his statements and his Senate record shows that McCain's "maverick" approach bodes quite well for those who cherish a conservative judiciary.

The senator has carefully repeated the conservative Republican Party mantras regarding federal judicial appointments demanded of all viable GOP candidates. For instance, McCain has praised President Bush for selecting justices "who strictly interpret the Constitution." And he observed that "one of our greatest problems in America today is justices that legislate from the bench."

He has pledged to appoint jurists who construe the Constitution and legislation, rather than make social policy or assume the role of judicial "activists." Indeed, one critical line of McCain's Super Tuesday speech was a clear, direct appeal to the GOP base: "I am a Republican because I believe the judges we appoint to the federal bench must understand that enforcing our laws, not making them, is their only responsibility."

McCain has also made the standard promise to name Supreme Court justices who share the perspectives of Chief Justice John Roberts as well as those of Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.

When some conservatives attacked McCain for remarking that he was reportedly troubled because Justice Alito "wore his conservatism on his sleeve," he set the record straight: "I will try to find clones of Alito and Roberts."

McCain may be less ideological than certain conservative Republicans would like. Nevertheless, his record suggests that they should not be concerned. In fact, McCain might rectify or temper the accusations, recriminations, divisive partisanship, and paybacks that have plagued the selection process by cooperating with Democrats, who may enhance their Senate majority in November.


Anonymous said...

Another thought for a possible Edwards position. Supreme Court Justice. We need a relatively young liberal to balance out Roberts and help steer a straight course for the next generation. Though, I myself am a liberal, I believe the court should be relatively centrist, so that its decisions best serve the majority of Americans. A liberal appointee would begin the process of returning balance to the court.

CSP 2003

Anonymous said...

The sad thing about the prospects for the state of the court playing a role in the election is that we were in a similar position eight years ago (and four years ago)but is seemed to make little difference to the millions of people who failed to vote. It could be argued that the decisions of the judicial branch have the greatest potential for momentous impact in the lives of individual Americans. Isn't it ironic that it is also the branch that Americans pay the least attention to.

CSP 2003