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Sunday, June 12, 2005
PoliColumn: Abortion and the Judicial Wars
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:36 am

From today’s Mobile Register:

What’s driving the judicial battles?
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Special to the Register

Believe it or not, the fight over President Bush’s appeals court nominees, although it has abated somewhat with the confirmation of three judges, including Alabama’s Bill Pryor, is now more than four years old. During that time we have experienced the attacks of 9/11, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a presidential election.

The whole piece is here.

Filed under: My Columns, Abortion, Courts/the Judiciary | |Send TrackBack


  1. Interesting take, though you do tip your hand a bit by using one side’s propaganda slogan (”pro-life”) while eschewing the other side’s (”pro-choice”).

    But I’m not sure I agree that the debate about judges is primarily about abortion. If it were, I’m not sure the fight would be quite so fierce at the appeals court level. After all, circuit judges are bound to follow precedent, and right now, that means Roe.

    I think there’s a much bigger-and potentially more significant-philosophical argument shaping up over the entire legacy of the Warren and, to a lesser extent, Burger courts. This includes not just the usual suspects (abortion, the Establishment Clause, search and seizure, affirmative action, etc.), but also the power of the federal government, both in and of itself and vis-a-vis the states. Some of the big battles of the next few decades will involve the power of Congress under the Interstate Commerce Clause, and the related issue of states’ rights. If you look at the agenda of the Federalist Society, which dominates GOP thinking in this area, they’re not spending all that much time debating Roe v. Wade.

    I suspect you’re also underestimating the likelihood of state legislatures outlawing abortion if Roe is overturned. There would be enormous pressure from the religious right placed on Republican (and many Democratic) legislators, and it would be unrelenting. It would not surprise me if, within five years of the Court striking down Roe, at least 20-25 states prohibited abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother was at stake. I would further guess that once this occurred, someone in Alabama would likely have to travel to Maryland or New Jersey in order to receive an elective abortion. Further, even many states that continued to allow abortions would add significant regulations and impediments. In the end, it is possible that only a dozen or so states (CA, NY, HI, etc.) would leave abortion access unchanged.

    In any event, given the ages of the Justices and Bush’s track record on judicial appointments, I think there’s a reasonable chance we’re going to find out which one of us is right.

    Comment by X — Sunday, June 12, 2005 @ 10:38 pm

  2. First of all, I have to agree with X that you show your hand when you call the opposition to pro-life, pro-abortion. I understand that to be HIGHLY politically incorrect. They are called pro-Choice because they do not encourage abortions but simply advocate the woman’s right to choose.

    Second, I agree with you completely that the criteria for judges should be that they will interpret the law not make it. However, barring some act of God, I think we have gone beyond the point of that being a real option. The best we can do at this point is try to keep the courts balanced. Unfortunately, it seems that the powers given to each branch of the government by the Constitution have turned out to be more of a suggestion than binding fact.

    Comment by Jan — Monday, June 13, 2005 @ 9:29 am

  3. I don’t suppose I was trying to hide a hand, although I certainly have used, in various contexts, all four permutations: pro-life, anti-abortion, pro-choice, pro-abortion. The degree to which any is the politically correct term depends on which camp one belongs.

    Indeed, in terms of general usage, all four of the above are fairly well established. If one wished to be inflammatory, one would use the term “anti-life” (which some do).

    Having said all that, I have no problem noting that I am opposed to abortion, hence the fact that I was not tipping a hand. My stance on abortion, however, does not alter my analysis of the situation.

    I woudl quibble, however, with the characterization of pro-choice v. pro-abortion, as while strictly speaking it is the case the grousp such as NARAL and NOW do not advocate abortion in all cases, it is clear that their agendas are aimed at promoting abortion as a practice-as evidenced by their staunch opposition to even reasonable restrictions on the practice.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, June 13, 2005 @ 9:59 am

  4. I will concede that some subsets of the group may be pro-abortion to some effect, but certainly not all pro-choice advocates should be considered pro-abortion. I, personally, am not pro-abortion as is evidenced by my two pregnancies under less than optimal circumstances (One from a consensual relation, one not). However, I feel that the procedure should be safe and available to those who feel they need one.

    Comment by Jan — Monday, June 13, 2005 @ 3:54 pm

  5. You know, I recently saw a very interesting web sire that contains a number of essays. They are about the issues you discuss: abortion, affirmative action and jurisprudence, among others. I bought the one about abortion and thought it offered a different perspective. Worth reading. Thought you might be interested. The site is

    Comment by catnyc — Tuesday, June 14, 2005 @ 7:19 pm

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