It took Nixon to go to China. It took Bill Clinton, a Democrat, to get control of the federal deficit. (Sorry, conservatives, but it’s true.) And it might take Rudy Giuliani to appoint solid Supreme Court Justices.
With Fred Thompson out of the race, judicial conservatives are looking for a candidate. John McCain? Three words: Gang of 14. Mike Huckabee? He’ll never be President. Mitt Romney? Ehhhh . . . he might be OK — but I think he comes across to voters as too slick and unprincipled. And there may be a reason for that.
But there’s no reason, in my judgment, to question Rudy Giuliani on the issue of judges. This is the argument made in a September 2007 New York Times op-ed piece that I think is worth resurrecting with Thompson’s exit. The op-ed was written at a time when Giuliani was looking much stronger in the polls, but the substance of the op-ed still holds:
I think Mr. Giuliani will be the most effective advocate for the pro-life cause precisely because he is unreligious and a supporter of abortion rights.
The author makes a very persuasive case:
In a televised Republican debate, Mr. Giuliani said it would be “O.K.” if Roe were overturned but “O.K. also” if the Supreme Court viewed it as a binding precedent. Despite this ambivalence, Mr. Giuliani promises to nominate judges who are “strict constructionists.” His campaign Web site explains: “It is the responsibility of the people and their representatives to make laws. It is the role of judges to apply those laws, not to amend our Constitution without the consent of the American people.”
Roe v. Wade, with no textual warrant in the Constitution, struck down the states’ democratically enacted restrictions on abortion. By fighting Roe, pro-lifers aim not to make abortion illegal by judicial fiat, but to return the decision about how to regulate abortion to the states, where we are confident we can win.
Our greatest obstacle is the popular belief that overturning Roe would automatically make abortion illegal everywhere. In fact, our goal may well be undermined by politicians like President Bush, who seem to use “strict constructionist” as nothing more than code for “anti-abortion.”
Only a constitutionalist who supports abortion rights can create an anti-Roe majority by explaining that the end of Roe means letting the people decide, state by state, about abortion.
Mr. Giuliani’s ambivalence about the end of Roe is consistent with his belief that judges should not seek to achieve political ends. This is a judicial philosophy that pro-lifers should applaud, not condemn. It is, after all, the position consistently articulated by the pro-life movement’s favorite Supreme Court justices: John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
I am ambivalent about abortion myself. I’m not confident that abortion is “murder” from the very moment of conception. But I think the inflexible law created by the Supreme Court has created a set of rules that allow abortions too late, for flimsy or nonexistent justifications.
But regardless of your personal view, we should all be able to agree that the issue should be decided by We the People and not nine lawyers wearing robes.
I think Rudy believes that. Last time I checked, Rudy’s advisory committee was people with folks I respect and trust on this issue, like Ted Olson and Miguel Estrada. These are not weak-kneed adherents of a living Constitution, and I don’t think Rudy is either.
Mr. Giuliani makes the same arguments that we pro-lifers make. But he can be more persuasive because he will not be perceived as trying to advance his own religious preferences. By taking the side of pro-lifers for democratic, but not devout, motives, a President Giuliani could shake up the nearly 35-year-old debate over Roe v. Wade.
I agree. I think Rudy could make that happen — if only Republicans would allow him to be the nominee.
Threads like this tend to devolve in a free-for all debate about abortion. Please try to stay on topic, addressing the issue of who would be the best candidate for the Supreme Court.