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Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Is Roe all that Matters?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 1:55 pm

Given that I believe abortion to be the taking of life, I certainly see it as a very important issue. However, as anyone with a passing knowledge of the Supreme Court’s docket and history knows: their cases aren’t just about abortion (indeed, far from it).

However, whenever we talk about courts (at least the Courts of Appeal and SCOTUS) one gets the impression that that is all the courts deal with.

Certainly, the whole religion discussion underscores this fact-whether it be some Democrats being concerned about the Catholicism of some nominees, or the current assurances that some evangelicals and Republicans are taking from Miers’ religious history.

And clearly it is a central issue, if not the issue for many. For example: Dianne Feinstein: Judging Harriet Miers should wait for hearingsFeinstein has said repeatedly that it would be very difficult for her to support a nominee she thought would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Miers’ stance on Roe is unclear, and Feinstein didn’t say whether they discussed it.

“It’s a big threshold issue for me because a dominant majority of people in my state are pro-choice, I ran as a pro-choice Democrat, and she fills Sandra Day O’Connor’s shoes. And they are critical shoes as you look at matters involving choice,” Feinstein said.

Just today, I note that the AP has the following: Miers Backed Ban on Most Abortions in ‘89

As a candidate for the Dallas city council, Miers also signaled support for the overall agenda of Texans United for Life — agreeing she would support legislation restricting abortions if the Supreme Court ruled that states could ban abortions and would participate in “pro-life rallies and special events.”

As Feinstein notes in the same story:

“The answers clearly reflect that Harriet Miers is opposed to Roe v. Wade,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record), a Democrat and only woman on the Judiciary Committee. “This raises very serious concerns about her ability to fairly apply the law without bias in this regard. It will be my intention to question her very carefully about these issues.”

This strikes me as an odd position (although hardly a new one). Since most people have an opinion, and typically an intense one, on the subject of abortion, the likelihood is that they wil therefre have some sort of “bias” on the question.

Some other examples of the centrality of abortion:

  • ABC News: GOP Senator Concerned About Miers’ Abortion Views
  • Miami Herald: Rove touted Miers’ abortion views
  • NPR: Abortion Views Key for Miers Backers, Foes

Again: abortion is very important, but it isn’t the main focus of attention of the Supreme Court. Further, even with Roe overturned, abortion is not going to be made illegal in the United States.

However, setting aside the issue of abortion itself, I would point out that the overreach that the Court displayed in Roe is largely responsible for the hyper-politicized environment we find ourselves in over forty years later vis-a-vis court appointees.

If the courts would leave issue like abortion in the legislative realm, where they belong, then we would be able debate the actual qualifications of a given nominee to be a judge rather than treating these nominees like they will be legislators of a type.

Update:: Parked in today’s Traffic Jam.

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