Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Last Straw?

I haven’t posted in some time. I have been busy at home and my internet access is quite limited. I have had some matters to write about—the Newsweek thing of course, where I felt not enough blame was being put on the rioters, and my state’s misinformed idea to raise the minimum wage, to name just two—but I didn’t want to post unless I could do so at a rate to make it worth my reader’s (such as they are) time. Breaking with this tradition, there is a matter upon which I felt I need to post. It is quite lengthy, though I tried to keep it succint. Hopefully it will be as thought provoking to all of you to read as it was aggravating for me to write.

Dr. James Dobson is the leader of Focus on the Family, a powerful organization among the “religious right”. He is stark-raving mad about the recent capitulation on behalf of “moderate” Republicans on the so-called nuclear option. And rightfully so. Though the Republican party has a majority of 55 Senators to the Democratic party’s 44—there is one independent—the Republicans have “compromised”.

Compromise is too nice a word. They have sold out. This may finally bring awareness to loyal members of the party base, that, no, your voice does not matter. Seven Senate Republicans have decided that fighting for federal pro-life judges is not worth the political risk. It’s time the religious right made them regret their remarks.

The compromise being so highly tauted in certain circles— thought is was great, which should say something—means that getting a pro-life justice appointed to the Supreme Court will be extremely difficult. In exchange for conformation votes on Owens, Brown and Pryor to federal courts, the Democrats promise not to filibuster except in “extraordinary” circumstances. The price to pay for the Republicans is that they may not use the “nuclear option” to force a vote on nominees.

The implications will be far-reaching. When Rhenquist steps down, Bush will nominate a conservative judge in the tradition of the current chief justice. Invariably, the Democrats will filibuster to oppose this radical (read: pro-life) candidate as this is surely an “extraordinary” circumstance. The Republicans will then be like a fish out of water. If they try to force a vote, they will have broken a promise. Bush will be forced to give in and nominate a judge who is not pro-life.

After all, that is the one isssue which the Democrats find reprehensible. The pro-choice crowd has become a voting bloc much like the pro-lifers are to the Republicans. The differene, of course, is that the Democrats work for their constituents, not against them. While Republicans have allowed pro-choice judges to ascend to the Supreme Court, the current Senate Democrats will not be as considerate.

Consider for a moment, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In 1993 there was an opening on the Supreme Court. Bill Clinton nominated Miss Ginsburg, an extremist. The proof: as a member of the ACLU she favored lowering the age of consent to twelve years.

Eliminate the phrase ‘carnal knowledge of any female, not his wife, who has not attained the age of 16 years’ and substitute a federal sex-neutral definition of the offense… A person is guilty of an offense if he engages in a sexual act with another person… [and] the other person is, in fact, less than 12 years old.

If Ginsburg was in charge of writing all of our laws, one could say goodbye to most cases of statutory rape. Yet this radical was not filibustered by the Republicans. Bob Dole even voted for her nomination.

If Ruth Bader Ginsburg is allowed through, why not pro-life judges, too? Opposing abortion is not nearly as extreme as endorcing sexual relations between 13 year-olds and adults of any age.
What is so extreme about the pro-life position? After all, the Constitution doesn’t mention abortion at all. Shouldn’t the regulation of abortion fall to the states under the 10th Amendment? Of course it should, which is why the Democrats are so scared of pro-life judges. A court decision abolishing abortion is no more radical than the Warren court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Why is it so revolutionary to be against abortion? And why is it not equally as radical to oppose all restrictions on abortion? Surely, the liberal who wants state-funded abortion is just as radical as the conservative who wants abortion allowed only if the life of the mother is in danger. Yet they are not portrayed as equally extreme.

Furthermore, compromise on this issue is quite possible. The partial birth abortion ban passed recently—until, in a burst of true radicalism, a judge deemed it unconstitutional—was such a compromise. The fact that most Democrats voted against this and former president Clinton vetoed it twice shows who is extreme on abortion. Reasonable people should be able to agree that if there is to be abortion—for the sake of the argument—provisions should be undertaken to make it as infrequent as possible and to provide restrictions in extreme cases. Partial birth abortions are fortunately quite rare and there is little doubt that the “fetus” is caused great pain. Yet the Democrats refuse to limit such an abhorent practice.

The reason this is so important is simple. Pat Buchanan has called the Supreme Court a “battering ram for social revolution”. Indeed, it has been so. What the Democrats have been unable to accomplish through the traditional legislative process, they have done so through the High Court. Abortion was never voted on by the people, but was instead forced upon them. Citing a “right to prviacy” found in the “penumbra of the Constitution” the court deemed restriction on abortion illegal.

The “right to privacy” is all well and good, except that the Constitution now applies to the States, something it was never intended to do. Of the thirteen original colonies, all had passed laws making sodomy illegal. In some states it was even punishable by death. Yet, the Supreme Court decided that a Texas law prohibiting sodomy was itself Unconstitutional. How wise our court must be, to know the intentions of the Founder’s document better then the Founder’s themselves.

An unfettered right to privacy disallows the federal government from brandishing most activities immoral. Under this logic, all drugs should be legal. In fact, one is hard-pressed to come up with any law that does not affect, in at least some small way, the privacy of the citizens of this country.

There are two problems with Roe v. Wade. First, the court ignored the 10th Amendment in it’s decision. The correct interpretation of the Constitution gives the states the right to regulate and legislate on abortion, as was done prior to Roe.

The greater consideration is this: a right to privacy is only honored if it doesn’t infringe on another citizen’s rights. A man’s freedom to extend his fist is prevented by another man’s face. The Court took into no account the other entity involved in abortion.

This is where the whole dilemma lies. The religious Republicans consider the beating heart and detectable brain waves signs of a human being alive in the mother’s womb. They feel that taking the life an unborn fetus at any age would be murder as the life is a human life all the way from conception.

Pro-choicers disagree. The fetus becomes a baby when it is born and no sooner. This is a slightly curious argument as the baby may come quite early and survive the pregnancy nonetheless. There is also little logic offered to combat the evidence of brain waves and the beating of another human heart.

My point is not to prove pro-choicers wrong. While it is true I am ardently pro-life and believe that they are, the issue here is much bigger than my personal preference on abortion. This is about the Democrats stubborness in confirming a pro-life justice, whose only extremeness lies in the fact that he or she dares to believe that the fetus is indeed a human being and consequently should be protected.

It is Democrats who are acting not only against precedent, but actually unconstitutionally. Article Six of the U.S. Constitution reads: “[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification of any office or public trust under the United States.” When it comes down to it, the Democrats are doing nothing but performing a religious test on candidates. Rather than call them out on it, Republicans have let this behaviour slide.

Make no mistake about it, seven ill-advised Republicans prevented a pro-life justice from being nominated to the Supreme Court. Rhenquist will step down this term, and others may as well. In the near future, the Republicans will have a hard time confirming any pro-life judge as the Democrats have now set a new precedent. The time had come to put up or shut up, and the Republicans have decided to let the majority’s voice not be heard.

For too long has the Republican party taken for granted the religious conservative vote. After all, in a two-party system, who else will pro-lifers vote for? Surely not the Democrats. Yet the votes will not keep coming forever. Republicans turned out in droves to re-elect Bush in 2004, for though, for all his faults, he is a socially conservative gentleman. Will they turn out to elect someone who holds the pro-life cause in as low esteem as John McCain?

To all those who believe that the fetus in the womb is actually an unborn baby: are you tired of a Republican party that had done nothing to combat the greatest injustice currently being perpetuated in this country? Are you sick of moderates controlling the party’s social agenda? Do you wish for an end to abortion in America? Write your congressmen and women as well as your senator. Let it be known where you stand.

In the off-year elections of 2006 the Religious Right should no longer support “moderate” Republicans. We must let the Republican party know that the pro-life voice cannot be taken for granted. Some may argue that doing so will allow Democrats to achieve more power. This is true, but what have the Republicans gained from power? Controlling both houses of Congress and the Presidency has put this country no closer to ending the evil of abortion.

If the Republicans are shaken up enough, they will listen to their base. It is possible that in 2008 conservatives will be able to nominate a candidate who is serious about ending abortion at all costs. The time has come to take charge of the party before it strays from all it has long stood for. If we waver in this moment, all will be lost. If we stand strong, we may, at long last, be able to turn the tide and end the court’s social revolution.