Alito Confirmation


There are no Pro-Choice Republicans

The New York Times has an interesting analysis of Thomas Alito's confirmation as it applies to a number of prominent Republicans.

The problem for this group, Senators Specter, Chafee, Snowe and Collins, is springs from a particular distinction Alito made during his testimony. The New York Times tells us, "in 1985, when he was a 35-year-old government lawyer, Judge Alito stated that the Constitution did not protect abortion rights, and that he was "particularly proud" of his legal work arguing that the Constitution did not confer the right to an abortion." During his testimony this week, Sen. Feinstein questioned Judge Alito about the status of Roe v. Wade as a precedent. Alito would not label Roe "settled law," in contrast to his stance on the one-person-one-vote cases, (denounced in the same 1985 memo) - amongst other decisions.

This differs from the position of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. took at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing last year.

Senator Arlen Specter, the committee chairman, attempted to give his party's nominee an escape. Sen. Specter allowed Judge Alito the opportunity to say that his views on Roe v. Wade pre-dated the Supreme Court's 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld and reaffirmed Roe. Judge Alito declined this idea of a "super-precedent," only promising to keep an open mind when deciding any change in the status of Roe v. Wade.

Exposition now complete, we can see the bind that Sen Specter of Pennsylvania, Chafee of Rhode Island, and Snowe and Collins of Maine, find themselves. All four are publicly Pro-Choice and have promised to oppose any nomination that would curtail the rights of women.

The Times editorial continues, "nearly 70 percent of Americans [say] in a recent Harris poll that they would oppose Judge Alito's confirmation if they thought he would vote against constitutional protection for abortion rights." This is especially true for these four particular Republicans, curious for their Pro-Choice stance in a party that is strongly Anti-Choice and their geographic distribution, all clustered in the cosmopolitan (and largely liberal) North-East.

We will see whether these four Senators are true to their Pro-Choice position or if they place party above their convictions and their constituencies. At the very least, these Senators should be 'no' votes. One would hope that the Democrats will mount a filibuster, in which these four should also be 'no' votes for cloture.

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