I don’t disagree with Ed Whelan lightly, but I’m sticking to my guns. Pryor did more than simply call Roe/Casey a legal travesty (though Ed is right that overruling those decisions would not render abortion unlawful, but simply would return the issue to the democratic arena where it could be resolved on a state-by-state basis, or perhaps by Congress). Pryor also lamented the consequences of Roe/Casey – viz., millions of slaughtered unborn children. I think that’s almost an exact quote. So Pryor was not simply deploring the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence an arrogation of a power that properly belongs to legislatures. He was signaling his views on the underlying policy question. That’s the sense in which Pryor’s nomination can be said to have implicated the core issue of the lawfulness of abortion.
I would add that if one watches the original Judiciary Committee hearing at which Pryor testified, it was clear many Senators were aghast not so much at his views on Roe, as with his unwillingness to disavow his prior characterizations of the result.
Frist just said on the floor that: “I ask that at 2:30 p.m. Monday, June 13, the Senate proceed to the Griffith Nomination as provided under the order. Provided further that following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate resume legislative session and the vote occur on the confirmation of the nomination at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 14.”
The final vote tally is here. Three Republicans voted against Pryor: Chafee, Snowe, and Collins. One was a no show: Murkowski. Two Dems voted for Pryor: Nelson and Salazar. The lone “Independent” Senator did not vote.
Jonathan, your correspondent incorrectly states that “Pryor’s nomination presented, full-frontal, the core issue of whether abortion should be permitted.” Even apart from the fact that Pryor’s confirmation is to the court of appeals, overturning Roe would not mean that abortion would not be permitted. It would mean only that the judiciary’s unconstitutional power grab on the abortion issue would end, and the people would decide through their legislators what abortion policy should be.
We can all continue to dissect who won and who lost in the McCain Mutiny, but the recent confirmations of Bill Pryor, Priscilla Owen and Janice Brown are a testament to the President’s determination to see his appointments through and to the intestinal fortitude of these three fine judges for surviving the slings and arrows of a very drawn out confirmation process. Congratulations to them all.
Collins and Snowe both voted against Pryor, didn’t they? Abortion explains those votes. Pryor is on record calling Roe the greatest abomination in the history of constitutional law, and both Maine Senators are committed to preserving Roe. The reason they could support Owen, but not Pryor, is because the Owen nomination involved an issue at the margins of the abortion debate — parental notification. (I’m not sure, but Collins and Snowe may well support parental-involvement laws themselves.) Pryor’s nomination presented, full-frontal, the core issue of whether abortion should be permitted.
I agree with that. I would also say that it shows that these Senators do not understand the distinction between a nominee’s personal views and their legal views. Judge Pryor knows full well that Roe (or, rather, that hybrid-child of Justices O’Connor, Souter, and Kennedy, Casey) is the law of the land, and he will follow it so long as it is so. That’s part of a judge’s job, and there was no evidence that Pryor would do otherwise.
Washington, DC – NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of William Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals:
“With the confirmation of William Pryor to a lifetime seat on the federal bench, the far right wing of the Senate is now three for three, demonstrating its willingness to rubberstamp President Bush’s most divisive and controversial nominees. The confirmations of Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and now William Pryor send a clear message that the concerns of mainstream Americans are not shared by the radical right leaders who run the Senate.
“William Pryor is a long-time outspoken anti-choice activist, so far to the right that he even opposes legal abortion for survivors of rape or incest. He has supported unconstitutional bills when they have agreed with his personal opinions on a woman’s right to choose. Pryor’s extreme views on a number of important issues, in addition to reproductive rights, do not reflect the values of a majority of Americans.”
Senator Debbie Stabenow is now speaking in support of confirmation of the two Michigan nominees, and claimed that she and Senator Carl Levin have both wanted to move forward with these nominees for some time. Yet both would have been confirmed long ago had the Michigan Senators not stood in their way.
The fact that O’Connor, Rehnquist, and Thomas remain committed to aggressive judicial oversight of Congress’s power to regulate the economy suggests that conservative judicial activism is not defeated; it still has powerful allies. Which is why the views of Supreme Court nominees about the Constitution in Exile should be a central question in the confirmation battles to come.