Tuesday April 13, 2010

Pro-Aborts Top List of Potential Supreme Court Nominees

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2010 ( – As the U.S. awaits word from the White House on who will replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a list of the most probable nominees has begun slowly to leak: all liberal, some overtly pro-abortion. While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is one heavily pro-abortion figure whose name has been floated as a possible surprise choice, the Obama administration put the rumor to rest Monday, saying Clinton would remain in her current position.

The short list of potential nominees is believed to include Solicitor General Elena Kagan, former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Leah Ward Sears, Federal Appellate Judge Diane Wood, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Federal Appeals Judge Merrick Garland.

Each of the contenders is considered to be at least a fairly liberal choice as a replacement for the far-left Stevens, who announced last week that he would retire at the end of the current session in June.

Solicitor General Kagan, considered one of the frontrunners, is known for strongly supporting taxpayer funding of abortion. She is a vocal critic of the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court decision Rust v. Sullivan, which upheld federal regulations prohibiting Title X family planning fund recipients from counseling on or referring for abortion.

Also, according to Americans United for Life, Kagan once suggested in a memo while clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall that faith-based groups operating pregnancy care centers should not counsel pregnant youths, because they would inevitably inject their religious beliefs into the counseling. Kagan has also been criticized for her lack of a judicial record.

Justice Sears, the first female African-American chief justice in U.S. history, has not issued any known decisions on the abortion issue. However, Americans United for Life notes that Sears has indicated that she broadly supports substantive constitutional privacy, the principle upon which Roe v. Wade was decided. In a 1998 decision overturning a ban on sodomy, Sears wrote that the courts were responsible to protect individuals’ rights against “morals legislation” from the majority.

Diane Wood is considered a leading liberal justice in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and is considered a radical supporter of legalized abortion. After graduating with her law degree in 1975, Wood clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun, the author of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Wood went on to author the decision of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case National Organization for Women v. Scheidler, in which she sided with NOW’s attempt to silence Scheidler, the Pro-Life Action Network, and Operation Rescue, extract large monetary damages, and prevent them from protesting at abortion clinics. Wood’s decision was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court in 2006.

Wood also wrote a dissenting opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Walker, in which she disagreed with the majority opinion that Southern Illinois University was wrong to revoke official student group status of a CLS chapter because it required its members to be Christian.

Secretary Napolitano has already won notoriety among the pro-life community for labeling opposition to abortion as a warning sign of violent “rightwing extremism.” A Homeland Security report detailing such “rightwing extremism” as characterized by pro-life and other normative conservative values was eventually pulled after an uproar ensued.

As governor of Arizona prior to her cabinet appointment, Napolitano was known as an extreme abortion supporter, having vetoed several pro-life bills, including a ban on partial-birth abortion and a bill protecting the conscience rights of pharmacists.

The name of D.C. Appeals Court judge Merrick Garland, who has no known record on life issues, has also been floated. Garland, 58, is considered a more moderate choice than the others, although he has earned a reputation as a left-leaning justice.

A rumor that Secretary Clinton could be on an internal short list emerged from an interview on Meet the Press Sunday by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who said he had heard the name mentioned, although he did not elaborate. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday, however, confirmed that, “The president is going to keep [Clinton] as his secretary of state.”

Hatch suggested Monday that the confirmation process for an Obama nominee could go smoothly – should the president stay away from an activist choice.

“If the president picks somebody who is clearly qualified, there is no question we can get that person through in a relatively short period of time,” said the senator on NBC’s “Today Show.” “On the other hand, if he picks an activist judge … we ought to do everything in our power to defeat that person.”

NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the National Organization for Women have already strongly urged President Obama to choose a judge who would uphold Roe v. Wade.

Political analyst Michael Barone at Rasmussen Reports noted that the health care reform debacle could prove central to the vetting process of the next Supreme Court justice. At least 18 states have already filed suit against the government for passing legislation they call a vast overreach of federal power, particularly a mandate requiring citizens to purchase health insurance under penalty of fines, and have expressed determination to bring the issue to the Supreme Court if need be.

“Some 14 state attorneys general are trying to raise the issue in court, and pending state laws outlawing mandates could raise the question, as well. Those state laws are obviously invalid under the supremacy clause unless the federal law is unconstitutional. Is it? I would expect an Obama nominee to decline to answer,” wrote Barone.

“But Republicans may not take such a response as meekly as they did when Ginsberg declined to answer dozens of questions back in 1993,” he continued. “They might press harder, as they did in 2009 when they prompted Sotomayor to declare, to the dismay of some liberal law professors, that she would only interpret the Constitution and the law, not make new law.

“Just raising the health care mandate issue helps Republicans given the great and apparently growing unpopularity of the Democrats’ legislation.”