Thursday, January 08, 2004

Clark: No pro-life appointments to the federal bench if he's elected.

According to a story in today's Manchester Union Leader Gen. Wesley Clark "said yesterday he would never appoint a pro-life judge to the federal bench because the judge’s anti-abortion views would render him unable to follow the established judicial precedent of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision." I am pro-choice, but I wonder how wise it is to establish an abortion-rights litmus test, any more than a pro-life litmus test should be used by Republican presidents. First, we're not talking about Supreme Court appointments only: Clark's announcement included all federal courts. This ignores the fact that we expect lower-court judges to follow Supreme Court precedent, and their freedom to "vote their conscience" is correspondingly constrained. (This is why I was comfortable supporting the nomination of Mike McConnell, a vociferous critic of Roe, to the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.) Second, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. A single issue litmus test on abortion is decried by liberals when the Republicans invoke it to eliminate pro-choice judicial candidates. Unless that's all bluff and bluster, we should be willing to stand behind that position when it cuts the other way. That, or just shut up when the Republicans exercise their constitutional right to stack the judicial deck against abortion rights.
posted by tommayo, 7:55 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter