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October 10, 2012 1:15 PM Abortion, the Supreme Court, and the Long Game

By Ed Kilgore

I’ve already written today about the mendacity of Mitt Romney’s comment that legislation restricting abortion rights wasn’t part of “his agenda,” and wondered whether any of his anti-choicer allies would either push him for an immoderate clarification or give him cover.

So far what we’ve got is Rick Perry on CBS:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry isn’t worried about his former primary rival’s reluctance to push legislation restricting abortion rights, saying on Wednesday that he’s confident Mitt Romney will appoint “constitutionalists” to the Supreme Court.
“I think the Supreme Court is where that issue will be decided, from the standpoint of how America’s going — We’ll have a Supreme Court decision, and that’s where the focus will be,” Perry said on CBS’ “This Morning.” “He’s said very clearly that he’s going to put people who are constitutionalists on the Supreme Court.”

Now it’s never been any secret that the “long game” of the anti-choice movement, and the foundation of its alliance with the GOP, has been the slow transformation of the Supreme Court into one that would reverse Roe v. Wade and fully re-politicize abortion policy. With probably four votes already on the Court for doing just that, and with a likely mini-exodus from SCOTUS over the next four years (four Justices are septuagenarians, and Justice Ginsburg, who has a history of health problems, turns 80 next March), that great gettin’-up-morning for the RTL folks is much closer than ever before.

But the last two years have represented a period of intense legislative activity by anti-choicers, mostly at the state level, but also in the U.S. House—more productive, from their point-of-view, than the earlier period when they were whipping largely symbolic “partial-birth abortion” bans through Congress and many state legislatures. If Romney is elected with a Republican-controlled Congress, there’s no reason this key element of the GOP coalition will stand by quietly as everyone else goes crazy with its long-pent-up demands. And Mitt, to put it mildly, is not a trusted figure with this crowd.

The question is whether anti-choicers want to complicate Mitt’s life with renewed demands for a fresh display of fidelity, or will seek either private assurances or just assume they can easily overcome his alleged reluctance to support legislative activism after November 6.

It’s hard to say if Perry is speaking at this point for the Romney campaign or for serious anti-abortion activists. If it’s the former, then you’d think Team Mitt would get someone out there of truly unimpeachable credentials like Santorum or Bachmann to blow the dog whistle and reassure the troops. If it’s the latter, Mitt may have gotten a nice assist in pretending to “move to the center,” though as Perry reminds us, anti-choicers are confident Romney would not dare betray them on appointments to the Court.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on October 10, 2012 1:33 PM:

    The only consolation I can think of if these Conservatives women-haters have their way, is that, right before they pass their "Human Life Amendment," they'd better repeal the 19th Amendment, that gave women the right to vote.

    The Jesus-freak/Quiver crowd is NOT a majority in this country, and the resulting tsunami of women voting against Republicans/Conservatives across the nation, may effectively kill the Republican Party.

    They've been able to successfully use "Life" to their advantage for over 30 years to win elections.

    We'll see if they're as comfortable with making a reality out of the promises they've been holding out, just out of reach.
    The smarter thing may be to keep Roe, and having it remain a wedge issue for another 30 years.

    In the meantime, we older women and men need to remind younger voters of what life was like before Griswold and Roe - it's a vastly different country afterwards than it was before.

    Too many people have gotten complacent, and the stakes in this election couldn't be higher.

  • gregor on October 10, 2012 1:38 PM:

    No way the right is going to let a Democratic President nominate any more SCOTUS justices.

    Either Romney wins, or look for a lot of serious talk and action on impeachment of Obama.

  • paul on October 10, 2012 1:39 PM:

    Of course Romney is lying. His lips are moving. But he doesn't need anti-abortion legislation to be part of his agenda -- it's part of the GOP's agenda whether he pushes it or not.

  • Mimikatz on October 10, 2012 1:49 PM:

    Romney doesn't have to have an anti-choice, anti-reproductive rights agenda. If he wins, it is a certainty that the GOP keeps the House and a high probability that they get a tied or GOP Senate. Then the only issue is how crazy and vindictive the GOP extremists are in victory, because Mitt will sign every damn thing they send him. Doesn't matter if it isn't on his agenda, we know from the last 2years it is on their agenda and they will push it while Mitt worries about how to let his friends make even more money.

  • dalloway on October 10, 2012 2:52 PM:

    Mimikatz is right. Like Grover Norquist, all the anti-choicers care about is that Mittsy has enough digits to sign what they tell him to sign. That's why they're cool with Moderate Mitt -- they know he's a hologram who may look like Mittsy, but who doesn't really exist.

  • thebewilderness on October 10, 2012 5:29 PM:

    It seems to me that Romney does not particularly care one way or the other about most of these "social issues". Nor do I think he sees the job of presidenting to be about any of that.
    His view, which he has repeated for many years, is that of a vulture capitalist. How do we create conditions for the maximum profitability for business.
    His agenda is profitability. That's it, that's all. If Congress wants a bunch of restrictions on civil rights, he has no problem signing them so long as they maximize profits. That is why NPR has to go and why Planned Parenthood has to go. Every tax dollar that goes to PP or NPR deprives a business of the profit they could have made by providing those services. And if there is no profit to be made providing those services then people don't need them.
    Maybe I am taking too narrow a view, but it seems to me that everything he says and does fits this assessment.

  • Doug on October 10, 2012 6:39 PM:

    thebewilderness, methinks Romney has confused Moroni with Mammon...

  • VaLiberal on October 11, 2012 10:47 PM:

    I've heard it said that Republicans will never let Roe v Wade be overturned because it's a dog whistle that works so well for them with the pro-birth crowd. However, I see the Republicans as big on undoing EVERYTHING the Democrats and a decent-thinking Supreme Court ever did that was good for this country.

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  • Friend of the Constitution on October 15, 2012 4:48 PM:

    There is no pending legislation regarding abortion except the groundswell to end federal funding from Planned Parenthood and he has already said that he will support that.. the best we can hope for from the government is a challenge to SCOTUS that will move the responsibility to individual states. What we have failed at with a resounding thud is changing the hearts and minds of "We the People" with exactly what happens to the baby, the increased risk of breast cancer for women who abort, and lovingly and generously bringing resources to women in crisis with unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. Adoption assistance, medical care, supplies and furnishings, and a loving and compassionate touch. As to habitual aborters who use abortion as birth control, (and a vast percentage of abortions are) abortions and drugs given to minors, sex-selection, laws must cover these issues. Compassion and care for others, informing the public of the whole truth of the devastating consequences can change the opinions of the electorate, and therefore the elected.

  • trex on October 15, 2012 5:57 PM:

    There is no pending legislation regarding abortion except the groundswell to end federal funding from Planned Parenthood and he has already said that he will support that

    You are either a liar or a moron. Straight from Right to Life, here is a list of the fifteen bills pending on abortion:

    http://www.rtl.org/legislation/PendingFederalLegislation.html

    My guess is both liar AND moron.

    increased risk of breast cancer for women who abort

    Yep, another lie.

    exactly what happens to the baby

    It's not a baby, it's either an egg, a zygote or a fetus. You can't use biology to make your argument then ignore the biological reality of what you are referring to.

    Adoption assistance, medical care, supplies and furnishings, and a loving and compassionate touch.

    This is exactly what Republicans are actively striving against, including causing more unplanned pregnancies and abortions by restricting access to birth control. Vote Democratic if you want these things.

    As to habitual aborters who use abortion as birth control, (and a vast percentage of abortions are)

    Really? What is "vast"?

    Compassion and care for others, informing the public of the whole truth of the devastating consequences can change the opinions of the electorate, and therefore the elected.

    This is precisely what you and your ilk do not provide: either compassion or truth.