October 12, 2005


Make Dobson reveal sources on Miers (Marie Cocco, October 11, 2005, Newsday)

There's no one better to clear up the confusion that's dogging the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination than the evangelical Christian talker, author and political powerhouse who founded the conservative group Focus on the Family - and who claims to have inside information that gives him confidence Miers would rule the way the Christian right wants her to.

"I can't reveal it all," Dobson said on his radio show last week. "Because I do know things I'm privy to that I can't describe." He bases his support for Miers on what he says were "confidential conversations and contacts." At least some of these tete-a-tetes, Dobson confirms, were with White House political mastermind Karl Rove.

The Senate Judiciary Committee cannot subpoena God, the other entity with whom Dobson claims to be chatting about Miers. But it can do the next best thing. It can get sworn testimony from one of the few people in the country other than, perhaps, George W. Bush, who is reasonably sure Miers will vote against abortion rights and complete other tasks on the social conservatives' judicial to-do list.

A few Senate Democrats suggested last week that Dobson would be a fine candidate for the judiciary panel's witness list in the upcoming confirmation hearings on Miers.

Bush: Miers' Religion Cited in Court Nod (NEDRA PICKLER, 10/12/05, Associated Press)
President Bush said Wednesday that Harriet Miers' religious beliefs figured into her nomination..."People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush told reporters at the White House. "Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

Bush, speaking at the conclusion of an Oval Office meeting with visiting Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, said that his advisers were reaching out to conservatives who oppose her nomination "just to explain the facts." He spoke on a day in which conservative James Dobson, founder of Focus on Family, said he had discussed the nominee's religious views with presidential aide Karl Rove.

The prospect of Democrats grilling one of the most popular Evangelical leaders in America is just too delicious to be wished--even they have more sense than this.

All in the Family: George can count on Harriet to overturn Roe v. Wade (LOU DUBOSE, 10/11/05, LA Weekly)

GEORGE BUSH’S ATTORNEY HARRIET MIERS will almost certainly provide the swing vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and end a woman’s right to choose an abortion. If, that is, the Senate confirms her to serve on the Supreme Court. Because journalists are advised to avoid reporting the future, I hedge my bet with the qualifier “almost.” But it’s a prediction you can take to the bank — almost.

In appointing the lawyer he took to Washington with him, the president again demonstrates the brilliance of his political adviser Karl Rove, who helped move Miers from litigation to the political practice of the law. Miers never served as a judge. She has no paper trail that senators could use to predict what sort of justice she will be. The White House is refusing to release correspondence between Miers and her client George Bush. And despite her high-profile position as a partner at a Dallas law firm, she has a scant record of litigation. So there’s much the public and the Senate won’t know.

What they should know is that Miers is an anti-abortion-rights zealot, who, as we say in the South, is “keeping company” with a Texas Supreme Court justice who defines anti-abortion zealotry in Texas. Miers’ love interest, Nathan Hecht, anchors the right wing of one of the nation’s most conservative high courts. He is the Texas Supreme Court’s most vocal — and at times most reckless — opponent of a woman’s right to choose.

White House Keeps Pushing for Miers (Maura Reynolds and Edwin Chen, October 8, 2005, LA Times)
Miers gained the support of at least one more leading evangelical activist Friday, the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon of Anaheim, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition.

He said of Miers: "The more I read, the more I like."

Sheldon said he had been in frequent contact with White House officials about Miers, beginning with an early-morning call from White House evangelical liaison Tim Goeglein on Monday, the day Bush announced his pick. "He said, 'Lou, you're going to be thrilled,' " Sheldon said.

Asked if his conversations with administration officials left him sure that Miers would help achieve evangelicals' goal of overturning Roe vs. Wade — the 1973 high court decision establishing a right to abortion — Sheldon was coy.

Dallas critics, please approach the bench (Steve Blow, October 12, 2005, Dallas Morning News)
Here's an unusual invitation: If you have some dirt on Harriet Miers, please contact me.


The phone number is 214-977-8374. The e-mail is sblow@ dallasnews.com.

The request may be odd, but it's real. I'm not being facetious here.

If Ms. Miers is truly unfit to be a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court – as so many people around the country seem to suspect – we need to know.

And if anyone should know, it ought to be right here in Dallas, where she grew up, studied, worshipped, worked and served in government.

So spill.

If there is anything you know firsthand that makes Ms. Miers ethically, intellectually or philosophically unfit for the high court, please divulge it.

On the other hand, if there is no one to step forward, that's important to know, too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 12, 2005 11:57 AM

GEORGE BUSHS ATTORNEY HARRIET MIERS will almost certainly provide the swing vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and end a womans right to choose an abortion.

The split on the Court right now in favor of abortion rights is 6-3. Miers will, presumably, move it to 5-4, but won't make it possible to overturn Roe. Miers can make a difference on cases involving the regulation of abortion, flipping the 5-4 majority overturning the ban on partial-birth abortion. It is possible, though unlikely, that Miers and Roberts, joining with Scalia and Thomas, can find one more vote (Justice Kennedy, presumably) to hold that after viability, the mental health of the mother is not sufficient reason to overcome the state's police power interest in protecting the life of the fetus.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 12, 2005 12:12 PM

This is the baited trap. Miers is a slap in the face to the entire vast, left-wing conspiracy.

Comsymps, homosexuals, public-school teachers, atheists--they all are quivering with hatred for the religious right, and anything they do or say to stop Meirs for that reason will only look like an anti-Christian jihad.

All Dobson would have to say is that he was told exactly what President Bush has already publicly stated, namely that the nominee is known by the President to have a good heart and that Americans will be pleasd by what kind
of justice she becomes.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 12, 2005 12:18 PM

The root of BDS is Christian hatred, and BDS may induce the SJC Dems to call Dobson to testify. Boy, would he.

Posted by: Luciferous at October 12, 2005 12:34 PM

Wish I had your confidence, David. Unfortunately, I think that Miers is the perfect candidate to find that other vote for a 5-4 overturn of Roe.

She's not some loose-cannon nutcase like Janice Rogers Brown, who would have no influence at all on the other justices. By all accounts Miers is a very persuasive and charming Southern lady who might well cajole Kennedy into joining a 5-4 majority.

Miers has shown that she can win elections. That's why she really is the most dangerous possible nominee for abortion rights supporters. Rogers Brown might have voted to overturn Roe - though who knows, with her screws so loose she might have voted to uphold. But she would have had no shot at persuading anybody else to go along with her.

Posted by: Casey Abell at October 12, 2005 12:38 PM

David: Your point has been made a million times, and those who claim that the SC is always one vote away from coat hangers in back-alleys just don't want the facts to get out. It's almost as if they're conceding that even the slightest imposition on the current abortion-on-demand regime will bring the whole facade crumbling down...

Posted by: b at October 12, 2005 12:43 PM


As with Wile E. Coyote, I bet he prints that on his business cards.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 12, 2005 12:53 PM

I wish I had your confidence, Casey.

Because my primary concern is the constitution, I want Roe overturned. For those whose primary concern is reducing abortions fast, getting rid of the mental health loophole gets the job 99% done.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 12, 2005 1:02 PM

By the way, you have to give Steve Blow (can that really be his name?) credit for honesty. I DIG UP DIRT AND I'M PROUD OF IT.

Posted by: Casey Abell at October 12, 2005 1:02 PM

I don't think Roe will fall immediately. But as you wish and I DON'T, it will be narrowed further and further down, maybe to first-trimester legalization if that much.

By then Miers will persuade Kennedy (and maybe Roberts, who's not an anti-abortion zealot even if he sleeps with one) to get rid of the precedent altogether.

Posted by: Casey Abell at October 12, 2005 1:10 PM

If Roberts isn't on board, then they're two votes down.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 12, 2005 1:18 PM

Roberts danced around questions on Roe, which does give me a little hope. But when crunch time comes, I think he'll vote to uphold restrictions on Roe and eventually a complete overturn. Three reasons:

1) The Missus.

2) His fine-wine legal mind won't cotton to the "reasoning" in Roe, which anybody will admit is less than convincing.

3) Miers' gentle persuasion.

I really wish Bush had given the wingnuts their desire and nominated a fruitball like Rogers Brown. Even if she had somehow gotten onto the court, her influence on the other robe-wearers would have been nil. And like I said, she's such a loose cannon there's no guarantee how she would have voted herself.

Posted by: Casey Abell at October 12, 2005 1:25 PM

In the midst of their wailing and gnashing of teeth, one of the NRO folks manage to post something very reasonable and observant about these Supreme Court battles. Ramesh Ponnuru may not be the snappiest writer, but he can see what's in front of his nose.

He just posted an article about the slippage in pro-life identification among the public. The money paragraph:

"I can only assume that it was the retirement of Justice Sandra Day OConnor at the beginning of July, and Bushs initial nomination of John Roberts to replace her, that has driven people back into the pro-choice camp. The Supreme Court vacancy made Roe the first thing people think about when they think about abortion. And the public supports Roe for a variety of reasons (including the mistaken beliefs that it legalizes abortion only in the first three months and that to overturn it would be to ban all abortions)."

Exactly, and things aren't going to get better for pro-lifers. Ponnuru holds out hope that the cases now up for review - snitch laws and late-term abortion bans - may turn the public back towards a pro-life identification.

Here I think he's fooling himself. When these restrictions on Roe are upheld 5-4 with Miers engineering the majorities, the decisions will be universally viewed as steps along the way to total reversal. That's not going to help the anti-abortion cause.

Posted by: Casey Abell at October 12, 2005 1:51 PM

Casey: What the heck is a "snitch law"?

If the SC rules for the federal PBA ban, every single state will ban it within the year.

If the SC rules parental notification laws are OK, every single state will have them within a year.

The American public is far more sensible and knowledgeable about this than you given them credit for. It'll all shake out OK. Would have done so a quarter century ago if it weren't for Roe, and we wouldn't be having this debate now...

Posted by: b at October 12, 2005 2:03 PM

Okay, I'll use "parental notification law."

Aw, forget about it. "Snitch law" is easier to type.

I agree that abortion won't be completely outlawed if (I'm tempted to say "when") Roe goes. We'll get a hodgepodge of state laws, from banning almost every abortion to allowing any abortion the feds don't prohibit. Look for lots of abortion clinics near state lines.

Posted by: Cazsey Abell at October 12, 2005 4:07 PM

Who cares about how they ID as long as they vote to restrict abortion? If they consider themselves pro-choice, but want to ban abortion in all but the first trimester, or in all cases except for physical health, then I welcome them to the party, even if they're wearing the wrong hat.

Posted by: Timothy at October 12, 2005 4:11 PM


Isn't that the point? Blue State pols will have to go to the voters and tell them they want to be the nation's abortion mills.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2005 4:11 PM

Exactly, Orrin. Except they won't say "abortion mills." They'll say "last bastions of reproductive rights" or some such. Which will be a winning argument in many blue states and maybe a few red ones.

If I were Pete Rose and HAD to bet, I think the largest group of states will opt for first-trimester legalization. The next biggest group will go for outright bans except for life of the mother, rape and incest. The smallest group will okay every abortion legal under federal law.

Posted by: Casey Abell at October 12, 2005 4:26 PM


No one likes to think of their community that way. Add in the prospect of pregnant black women being brought into your state and the issue is a political dog.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2005 4:33 PM

Casey: You can always come to Massachusetts. The SJC will almost certainly find a right to unconstrained abortion in the state constitution.

As for the rest of it, Ponnuru's point is why, despite some Republican nervousness, the best political result is the best judicial result: the immediate overturning of Roe. The roof won't fall in, the states will act relatively quickly and mostly people won't notice any difference. It is the fear of Roe falling that galvanizes the Democratic base. The reality will be anti-climatic.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 12, 2005 4:34 PM

Casey: "The smallest group will okay every abortion legal under federal law."

Name one.

Posted by: b at October 12, 2005 4:39 PM

Immigration by Latinos and imploding secular fertility rates will make MA a Red State within a few years.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2005 4:41 PM

Which is why the left is so infatuated with the judiciary. Voters don't matter.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 12, 2005 5:19 PM

If there are any "overreactions" by state legislators if and when Roe is overturned, voters will take care of that in the following election, if they believe the pendulum towards restruction has swung too far in the other direction. But the big media outlets will gravitate towards the most conservative states in order to try and frame a growing threat of repression for the entire country, so abortion rights in Montgomery, Ala., or Salt Lake City, Utah will suddenly become an everyday issue at the big papers and on all the news channels.

Posted by: John at October 12, 2005 8:00 PM

A lawyer who has argued out his constitutional positions in public is committed to a certain direction. Harriet Souter, having never engaged with these issues is likely to flop around unguided.

The real issue with Roe is not the creation of a "right" to abortion. Overruling it will not make abortion illegal. States will have to go back and revise their laws, if they want to outlaw abortion if Roe is overruled. Michael Barone believes that only a handful of states will outlaw abortion completely.

The real problem with Roe is that it let the genie of substantive due process out of the bottle wherein Hugo Black had confined it, without the compensatory abandonment of Black's fanciful doctrine of incorporation.

We now have the worst of both worlds, the doctrine of incorporation involves the federal courts in every school graduation, Christmas display and public monument in every corner of the country. The doctrine of substantive due process has given us the right to abortion, the right to sodomy and will, no doubt, in time, yield the right to gay marriage, the right to polygamy and other horrors not even thought of yet.

This is why it is important to have a justice who understands these issues correctly. Others will be unable to hack their way out of the undebrush.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 13, 2005 12:48 AM

David already named one state that will go for unrestricted abortion up to what the Feds allow: Massachusetts. My guess is that New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Hawaii, other deep blue states would follow. Maybe California and Oregon, not sure.

Not a huge groups of states but not negligible.

And, Orrin, if you think first-trimester legalization would be a political loser in most centrist states, you're fooling yourself. The poll data shows that a large majority (about 75%) wants abortion legal all or some of the time. First-trimester legalization is a political winner and would likely prevail in the largest group of states.

Posted by: Casey Abell at October 13, 2005 1:05 PM


Uh-huh. States are trying to shut down the areas where day workers congregate to get jobs but you think they'll make themselves magnets for the underclass's abortions?

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2005 1:47 PM