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Monday, October 24, 2005

What. . . . Part V (are we there already?)

Thanks to Rick for engaging in this interesting (to my mind, at least) conversation.  I don't say "debate," because I actually don't think there is that much disagreement between us on this (these?) issue(s?).

I hope that Rick and the rest of you will indulge me for one last(?) time, as I make some comments in response to Rick's latest post.

First, I think Rick and I disagree on just who the Miers abortion/Roe signals are intended for.  Rick thinks that these signals are for "pundits, commentators, and law-types."  I hardly think so.  Pundits, commentators, and law-types surely do care about Roe, but they just as surely do not put the anti-Roe credential at the top of their list for what they want in a Supreme Court Justice.  The signals about her stance on Roe are sent to the very same people as the signals about her religious ideology.  Indeed, I think this is one reason that so many conservative "pundits, commentators, and law-types" are so angry about this nomination.  To them (and rightly so), it isn't all about Roe and religion, and their doubts about Miers therefore aren't assuaged by "reassurances" regarding her anti-abortion bona fides.  Indeed, that's why they supported Roberts, even though they can't feel secure that he will vote to undo Roe.  Rather, these signals are precisely for what Rick calls "persons-on-the-street" and politicians who answer to a particularly constituency.  It was this crowd that my initial post was directed towards.  They don't care about jurisprudence; they care only that abortion be curtailed, and hopefully banned.  And in that sense, they are guilty of whatever sin they charge liberals of.  My critique is that they've adopted the rhetoric of the principled conservatives, but they haven't adopted the substance.

Second, on the question of Roe specifically, I think it is plainly the case that many conservatives begin with the assumption that abortion is wrong, and then assume that the Constitution must be interpreted in that fashion.  As Rick himself points out:

For non-law-types . . . one's "views" on abortion are entirely reducible to one's "views" about abortion. 

That's who I am talking about.  I would hope that a national conversation on constitutional questions could be directed towards the, um, Constitution.

Finally, Rick, on the question of whether something deemed immoral should be deemed illegal, I don't think you quite answered my question, at least not entirely.  Let me repeat it: don't you think that many conservatives who oppose abortion often conflate the moral question with the legal one?  Please note that this question was prompted by your intial challenge to me.  You wrote that you believe that "abortion is wrong," but you've made no statements about the legal question.  And my point was just to highlight that those are two entirely different questions (though clearly one might bear on the other).

And finally a question for readers (who should feel free to chime in on anything else we've said): Do you like ongoing debates among us prawfsblawgers in this format?  Should we do it more often?  Not at all?  Are there topics you'd like to see covered?

Posted by Hillel Levin on October 24, 2005 at 12:14 PM in Hillel Levin | Permalink


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