Moore: GOP no threat to abortion

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Tue Aug 1 10:09:45 PDT 2000

On Tue, 1 Aug 2000, Doug Henwood wrote:

> "Ain't Fallin' For That One Again"
> by Michael Moore

Roe v. Wade
> is still on the books (mainly because of the consistent and
> unwavering support from the Reagan-appointed Justice O'Connor, the
> Ford-appointed Justice Stevens, and the Bush-appointed Justice
> Souter! They have voted to uphold abortion rights every single time).

Let me say first that the GOP Supreme Court appointees are more guaranteed to be abomniable on economic issues, where all the recent GOP appointees (save Souter on occasion) have supported an expanded "takings clause" to strike down land use regulations and are moving to do the same with regulatory actions. The "federalism" expansion is also on the road to further eliminate federal regulation over a range of areas.

But on abortion, the problem with Moore's argument is that we now have a 5-4 majority on Roe v. Wade. So if Bush gets to replace Stevens (not unlikely), that's still playing a pretty big bet, since while Moore cites three pro-choice COPers, there are four much more vehemently anti-choice GOPers on the court. So assuming the odds reflect that fact, that's over 50% chance that Roe v. Wade loses its majority.

And it's worth remembering that Blackmun was only on the Court because Democrats defeated two much more rightwing Nixon nominees. Sandra Day O'Connor reflects Reagan's promise to appoint a female Supreme Court justice and the almost impossible challenge of finding prominent anti-choice female GOPers in 1981 - and O'Connor has been voting pretty consistently with the rightwing on federalism issues like striking down the Violence Against Women Act. Souter is the only justice who counts as a real "mistake" on the order of Eisenhower's appointment of Brennan and Marshall or Nixon's appointment of Blackmun.

And it's worth noting that there has been no similar uncertainty in Dem appointees to the Court since Kennedy's appointment of the conservative Byron White. Every Johnson and Clinton appointee to the Court has been pro-choice.

Given the bare majority for Roe, the Rehnquist federalism crusade, and the expansion of "takings" rulings by the Court, who gets to appoint Supreme Court appointees will make a very big difference in our lives.

Notably missing from Moore's analysis of why the GOP does not guarantee the loss of Roe v. Wade is the fact that election of Gore essentially guarantees its preservation.

So given the choice between the faint hope that the GOP screws up in trying to overturn Roe and the guarantee of its preservation, most folks will take the guarantee. On abortion, that's not even lesser-evilism. That's just the right vote.

-- Nathan Newman

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