Bench Memos

Re: Anti-Pryor Votes

My correspondent defends his position:

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.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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