Wednesday, October 12


If you're a pro-life, social conservative, as I am, you will find Jill Stanek's piece, published in "WorldNetDaily," on President Bush's nomination to the SCOTUS of cipher Harriet Miers, very compelling. Be forewarned, however, that it will savage those nerve-endings that have been on fire ever since Bush turned away from a list of solid, strict-constructionists/originalists in favor of a personal friend.

Ms. Stanek writes (excerpts follow):

It is inconceivable to me that President Bush would send this not so subtle covert message to pro-lifers about his Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers: "I know her heart. I know her character. … I know exactly the kind of judge she'll be. … I know what she believes," while denying he has ever asked her beliefs about Roe v. Wade.

Miers has worked closely with President Bush as his attorney for over a decade. One of Miers' duties in recent years was "ultimate gatekeeper for what cross[ed his] desk." Apparently not one letter, speech, talking point, or even the president's own thoughts on abortion motivated Miers to discuss her personal beliefs with the president, even in a quiet moment.

Miers also participated in interviews with prospective Supreme Court nominees before she was tapped. Although Roe v. Wade is the most notorious Supreme Court decision of our time, and 32 years later its presence dominates the focus of Supreme Court nominations, Miers was apparently never motivated to convey her personal beliefs about it to the president.

Nor did the president ask.

I can think of three reasons the president could honestly say he never discussed Roe v. Wade with Miers.

One is the pro-life issue is not a personal priority to the president, only political, so he doesn't think to dialogue with associates about it.

Two is the president is skittish on the pro-life issue and preplanned not to discuss it with any potential Supreme Court nominee so he could say just that.

Three is Miers is a robot.

I'm leaning toward the first reason these days (which would provoke the second reason), particularly since a month ago the president thought it acceptable to joke about naming pro-abort Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to the high post. This was an obvious jab at pro-lifers and as funny as dead babies.

Criticizing President Bush on his Supreme Court nominee does not come easy for me. During his tenure he has been a pro-life advocate.

I won't subtract from the president's pro-life accomplishments except to say most have been conducted under the radar, as if he is indeed skittish. The achievements he did publicize had sizeable public support, like the Born Alive Infants Protection Act and the partial-birth abortion ban.

It's not as if this president is a wimp. There is no question he fights for issues and people he is passionate about, and he understands the importance of educating the public.

So I wish President Bush treated the pro-life issue as he treated the Social Security issue. Imagine his conducting a multi-city tour to explain why we must stop abortion, because it is morally bankrupting our society.

And I wish the president handled his Supreme Court nominations as he handled his nomination to the United Nations, John Bolton. He knew Bolton was to liberals what red is to bulls, but he cared more about his agenda than them.

And Jill Stanek makes this sobering observation:

First, by choosing Miers the president unnecessarily subjected his closest allies to literal torment. At stake here are millions of lives. Forcing us to walk on hot coals for him in a bizarre demonstration of faith is most egregious, something he wouldn't subject on his own dog.

But, maybe, just maybe, George Bush isn't all that pro-life to begin with. I received a "Comment" yesterday to one of my posts from Carol Saunders, who, if her facts are legitimate, might cause one to surmise correctly that Bush is pro-life more out of political necessity, because of his conservative Christian base, than from any moral convictions.

Ms. Saunders writes:

In 1996, George (Trust Me) Bush learned the hard way it was a mistake to try to remove the anti-abortion plank in the GOP platform. He sent a messenger to the Resolutions (Platform) Committee of the Texas State Republican Convention asking that the pro-life plank not be included in the platform. It was voted for unanimously. As a result, Bush was denied the privilege of leading his own delegation to National Convention because too many delegates did not trust him on the pro-life issue.

Many Republicans believed that Mr. Bush would be naming people of a more conservative bent to the U.S. Supreme Court. Before making such a supposition, it would be a good idea to look at Mr. Bush’s track record. He had signed a bill naming a highway after an infamous abortionist from Houston, John B. Coleman, who, among other things, faced medical malpractice lawsuits involving abortions at the time of his death. There were many excuses given for his signature on the bill, but the fact remains that President Bush had promised not to sign it.

Was it just pandering to the pro-choice vote that had him comment, when visiting New Jersey, that he couldn't wait to campaign with Christine Todd Whitman not only in New Jersey but all over America. As the governor of New Jersey she consistently stood with the pro-abortion, feminist lobby and even vetoed the partial birth abortion ban passed by the New Jersey legislature.

While Governor of Texas, President Bush also appointed Martha Hill Jamison to the 164th District Court in Houston. Mrs. Jamison is the daughter of former Democratic Attorney General, John Hill, and had just recently turned Republican. She was still a supporter of Planned Parenthood and the Gay and Lesbian political caucus.

In Texas when a Supreme Court place is vacated during mid-term, the governor may appoint someone to fill that spot until the next election. Bush appointed four members to that court. Texas law required that parents be notified prior to the performance of an abortion on a minor. In March, the Texas Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision refused to uphold a decision by a lower court ruling that a 17 year old girl is not mature enough to make an abortion decision without notifying her parents. Three of the votes vacating the decision were from Bush’s four appointments to the Texas Supreme Court. They were instrumental in virtually nullifying the parental notification law which Mr. Bush proclaimed that he supported. Are we supposed to believe that his current choice for the Supreme Court will be any better?

But whether President Bush has unwittingly tormented his pro-life base or, worse, cunningly eschewed their right-to-life agenda and reasons for voting him into the White House in 2000 and keeping him there in 2004, his choice of his personal friend, Harriet Miers, and his obvious decision to avoid a fight with liberal Democrats in the United States Senate and on its Judiciary Committee, is regrettable as a political statement and stunningly disconcerting as a moral statement.

That said, I wholeheartedly subscribe to Alan Keyes' viewpoints, as published at the "Renew America" Web site, and in the context of the Miers' nomination and the oft-repeated assurances from her apologists that she's an evangelical Christian and member of a largely pro-life church:

Unfortunately, even many people who profess to be pro-life often fail to realize that as a matter of public policy, the pro-life position is about public principle, not personal conviction. In this respect it is – like the issue of slavery in the 19th century or civil rights in the 20th – an issue that calls into question America's commitment to its founding ideals, chief among which is the declaration that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. The doctrine of unalienable rights is to the Constitution what the laws of physics are to architecture or engineering. Those laws are not repeated in every plan or architect's drawing, but they are assumed and must be respected or the results will be defective and dangerous.

The pro-life position is based on a clear and simple fact: Legal sanction for abortion is inconsistent with the principle that all of us are created equal. However argued, the view that there is some right to abortion involves the judgment that on account of differences in physical development, one human being may with impunity take the innocent life of another. It also requires that we simply set aside the concept of creation, since equality established at the moment of creation would place the issue of humanity beyond the reach of human judges.

When it comes to the fitness of an individual for the Supreme Court, therefore, the key question from a pro-life perspective isn't about church membership, or personal faith and convictions, it is about her understanding of the relationship between the Constitution (which is supposed to reflect and embody the rights of the people) and the Declaration of Independence (which summarizes the moral principles from which we derive our claim to those rights).

And, to be sure, I agree with Mr. Keyes when he writes:

The Miers pick represents the kind of stealth nomination that moral conservatives distrust deeply in the wake of their experience with David Souter. Beyond this sensitivity, however, lies the more fundamental question of the message this kind of nomination sends to moral conservatives up and down the line. As others have pointed out, we have a pro-life president and a pro-life majority in Congress, yet we are asked to settle for someone who has carefully avoided public identification with the moral principles of the Constitution.

Does this mean that anyone who stands forward to engage in the debate over constitutional principles will be barred from high office, even when putative pro-lifers are in charge? Often when we demand results from Republican politicians we are told that we must work to change America's heart. Now by their actions they tell us that anyone who does so will ultimately come to a dead end in their public usefulness. Did this happen to Ruth Bader-Ginsburg because of her pro-abortion stance? What does it tell us when the ultimate fruit of a strategy is that good people hide their views under the bushel basket, while others are encouraged to hang their bad convictions from the lamp-stand so that they corrupt the whole house?

Forty-eight (48) million dead demanded that the president draw a line in the sand and make a bold, courageous, morally-grounded stand in nominating a strict-constructionist/originalist to the United States Supreme Court -- one who would draw fire from the Senate's egregious, dyed-in-the-wool, progressive-secularist-nihilists and moral relativists. Does anyone doubt that Abraham Lincoln would have fought the brave fight to preserve the Judeo-Christian ethos that embraces the sanctity of life, just as he fought to preserve the Union?

As eminent Lincoln-scholar Harry Jaffa has written:

While the crisis of today does not have the immediacy of the crisis over slavery, its underlying character is the same. It is commonplace today to compare the issue of abortion to that of slavery, and especially to compare Roe v. Wade to Dred Scott. And, indeed, the parallels are many and striking. More profound than the details of these comparisons, is the one cause underlying the many resemblances. When Douglas declared that he didn't care whether slavery was voted up or voted down, that he cared only for the right of the people to decide, he gave expression to a concept of democracy that identified majority rule with indifference to the morality of the outcome of majority rule.

Such moral relativism dominates political thought in our time far more profoundly than when Douglas and Lincoln had their debates. And this moral relativism, now even more than then, takes the form of a rejection of the principles of the Declaration of Independence. This is not because it is the Declaration alone that embodies moral realism and moral rationalism. Indeed, the principles of the Declaration are expressed in many other places, in the Revolution, and in the Founding generally. The "laws of nature and of nature's God" in the Declaration represent, however, a distillation of the wisdom of a tradition of more than two thousand years.

Jaffa continued by pointing to a speech given by Pope John Paul II, who said:

The United States carries a weighty and far reaching responsibility, not only for the well being of its own people, but for the development and destiny of people throughout the world…. The Founding Fathers of the United States asserted their claim to freedom and independence on the basis of certain "self-evident" truths about the human person: truths which could be discerned in human nature, built into it by "nature's God."

Thus, they meant to bring into being, not just an independent territory, but a great experiment in what George Washington called "ordered liberty:" an experiment in which men and women would enjoy equality of rights and opportunities in the pursuit of happiness and in service to the common good.

Reading the founding documents of the United States, one has to be impressed by the concept of freedom they enshrine: a freedom designed to enable people to fulfill their duties and responsibilities toward the family and toward the common good of the community. Their authors clearly understood that there could be no happiness without respect and support for the natural groupings through which people exist, develop, and seek the higher purposes of life in concert with others.

The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways. Millions of people around the world look to the United States as a model, in their search for freedom, dignity, and prosperity. But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic.

Their commitment to build a free society with liberty and justice for all must be constantly renewed if the United States is to fulfill the destiny to which the Founders pledged their "lives...fortunes...and sacred honor.

To Pope John Paul II's charge to America and its leaders, Jaffa opined:

There are many things that are noteworthy in this remarkable statement. In its main character it embodies doctrines that have been featured in my writings over the last 40 years. These have either been ignored or denounced, by the established representatives of conservative thought. For John Paul, like Jefferson and Lincoln, the rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, being rights with which we are endowed by our Creator, are not to be understood blindly to emancipate the passions, but rather to direct them towards the ends approved by that same Creator, ends which are in the service of the common good no less than that of private pleasures.

Contrary to our "paleoconservatives," the truths of the Founding do not depend solely upon tradition or divine revelation, but are "discerned in human nature" by human reason grounded in "self-evident truths."

It is also quite remarkable that John Paul does not speak here of traditional values, family values, or any other kind of values, which by definition are subjective. In the accents of Abraham Lincoln, he calls for renewal in each new generation of the "moral truths" (not values) upon which the nation was founded. We should take to heart today, on Lincoln's birthday, John Paul's call for "a new birth of freedom."

We are obliged to recognize that the greatest obstacles to the moral renewal called for by the Pope may be found in the elites — conservative no less than liberal — who dominate our public life.

Remember in digesting Jaffa's insights that seven Republican Senators allied with seven Democratic Senators to form the "Gang of 14" and undermine the chances that the president would choose to take the case for "moral truths" to the floor of the United States Senate in his selection to fill Sandra Day O'Conner's seat on the Supreme Court bench.

The bewilderment attending Bush's confounding choice of Harriet Miers for we pro-lifers is brought into bold relief by the eloquence of Harry Jaffa's profundity:

For Lincoln as for Jefferson — and, I need hardly add, for Pope John Paul — the great principles of right and wrong must govern the people, for the people to be able to govern themselves. No majority, however great, can authorize what is intrinsically immoral. According to George Washington, no nation can prosper that "disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained." These rules bind the majority no less than the minority.

Roe v. Wade is an abomination. It's majority opinion contorts and distorts the Constitution. It deserves to be overturned. And it matters not whether the country is evenly divided on Choice vs. Life or if a simple majority truly wants so-called "reproductive rights" for women and for abortion mills to continue to hum, anymore than Germans could have legitimately approved legislation sanctioning the death camps. There are, indeed, higher laws.

The firestorm that has ensued in the wake of Bush's SCOTUS nomination is because pro-life social conservatives cannot understand why the President of the United States wouldn't be as bold in unseating Roe v. Wade, as he was in pulling Saddam Hussein from his spider hole. Sometimes, as Lincoln recognized, war must come if there's to be a new birth of freedom.

HAT-TIP: "ProLifeBlogs"