Campaigns/Elections

Roe OK, Not Roe OK

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In last night's debate, Rudy Giuliani clarified his abortion position by announcing that he is agnostic on the question of whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned:

It would be OK to repeal it. It would be OK also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent, and I think a judge has to make that decision….The court has to make that decision and then the country can deal with it. We're a federalist system of government and states can make their own decisions.

While I agree that abortion is an issue that should be left to the states, an approach Giuliani deems "OK" if not actually preferable, I'm having trouble understanding this latest equivocation, let alone buying it. Giuliani is a lawyer and a former federal prosecutor who says he would appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court, but he has no opinion on the legal merits of Roe? He can go either way on the question of whether it's consistent with the Constitution? And why would a "strict constructionist judge" be especially committed to the Court's own precedents when they fly in the face of what the Constitution requires? Combine that implication with Giuliani's statement that strict construction stops states from violating individual rights, apparently including the right to abortion, and you've got quite a muddle.

Then there's the issue of taxpayer funding for abortions. Last night Giuliani said he opposes federal funding but believes states should be left to make their own decisions in this area. That's a perfectly defensible legal position, but it's inconsistent with his bizarre suggestion that the Constitution requires public funding of abortions, since a woman can't exercise her right to choose if she can't afford one. This alleged constitutional requirement presumably would evaporate if the Supreme Court repealed Roe, a prospect regarding which Giuliani claims to be indifferent.

It's hard to tell what Giuliani actually believes, but maybe it's something like this: Abortion is an evil that should be avoided when possible, but it's not the sort of evil the government should prohibit. A pregnant woman has a right to decide whether to give birth or have an abortion, but it's not a constitutional right. This is a coherent position, although many people obviously would disagree. Is it so dangerous for him to candidly state his actual views that it's better to be perceived as a mealy-mouthed flip-flopper?

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  1. Ahem. I will translate: “Anything is okay, so long as I become the next president.”

  2. We’re still hoping for a coherent, morally and ideologically consistent presidential candidate?

    This ain’t 1800.

  3. Agreed with PL. Why?

    #1: He’s a politician. He will do anything to get elected. Like a crack WHORE in a suit.

    #2: Some people don’t have real strong feelings about certain issues and do not want to lose voters on what is to them a relative throwaway. That’s sure how I’d feel about abortion if I were running for office.

  4. I think they should still be handing out whiskey at rallies.

  5. Roe OK? Ruh-Roe!

  6. I’d vote for that!

    Candidate X: “What’s your name, young man?”

    Me: “Um, Pro, sir. Pro Libertate.”

    Candidate X: “Do you know who I am?”

    Me: “Uh, sorry, no.”

    Candidate X: [Hands me a glass and begins to pour] “Jack Daniels, son, Mr. Jack Daniels.”

  7. …and I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling pro-lifers!

  8. “While I agree that abortion is an issue that should be left to the states, an approach Giuliani deems ‘OK’ if not actually preferable…”

    But overruling *Roe* will *not* necessarily leave the abortion issue “to the states.” First of all, the Court might actually find that the states are *required* to ban abortions because fetuses are “persons” who can’t be deprived of life without due proecess of law. Second, even if the Court decides that it will not dictate states’ abortion laws one way or the other, it might decide that *Congress* has the right to overrule state laws in this area. Don’t forget that the partial-birth law it recently upheld was after all a federal, not state, law. Under current interptretations of “interstate commerce,” Congress could easily regulate abortion in either a pro-choice or pro-life direction (pro-choice regulation is not likely as long as there is a GOP president and pro-life regulation is not likely as long as there is a Democratic Congress, but divided government may not exist forever…).

    (My target here is not Giuliani but the widespread lazy assumption that overruling *Roe* necessarily means “leaving the issue to the states.”)

  9. I agree David. I would guess that the commerce clause will become an issue when people travel to another state for one.

  10. We may get to see that with the partial birth abortion ban. If a patient travels to another state for one, will the doctor be judged to be affecting interstate commerce? That will be up to the trial court (judge or jury) to decide, because that’s what the statute says.

  11. “Is it so dangerous for him to candidly state his actual views that it’s better to be perceived as a mealy-mouthed flip-flopper?”

    Yes,because he’s a Republican. He should be a Democrat.

  12. Edward,

    The sad thing is, that a big-govt authoritarian schmuck like Rudy fits in with Repubs at all these days. The only things differentiating the two parties these days are abortion and guns.

  13. “Abortions for some, tiny waving flags for others!”

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