Charles Krauthammer comes to Giuliani’s defense, arguing that it isn’t Rudy’s viewpoints on abortion that are muddled per se, but the issue itself that is muddled as a result of the Roe v. Wade decision. I tend to agree to a certain extent, though many of Giuliani’s answers have been particularly confusing. However, it is true that the abortion issue is a highly complicated one both morally and legally, and while some people fall clearly in one camp (pro-choice, pro-Roe) or the other camp (pro-life, anti-Roe), a lot of people fall somewhere in between. Yet, the way our political system works, with the need to appeal to the base during the primaries, we want our candidates to neatly fit into one box or another. Also, the National Review has argued that Giuliani should have said that Roe was wrongly decided, and Lowry decribes him as “a pro-choicer who doesn’t want to go the Coverdell/Hutchison route of reaching an accommodation with pro-lifers.” Easier said than done. The problem for Giuliani is that given his past statements on abortion, if he had tried to make an accommodation with pro-lifers or come out firmly against Roe, he would have been blasted as a flip-flopper and political oppourtunist.
As for Giuliani’s oft-criticized statement that a “strict constructionist” could vote to uphold Roe because it’s been the law of the land for over 30 years, Krauthammer cites William Rehnquist’s decision to uphold Miranda despite his opposition as an example of a “strict constructionist” allowing precedent to trump narrow interpretation of the constitution. Interestingly, John Roberts cited that example in an interview when talking about the responsibility a chief justice feels to do things for the good of the court. During his confirmation hearings, Roberts said of Roe, “it’s settled as a precedent of the Court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis.” With that said, it is worth noting that in his Planned Parenthood v. Casey dissent, Rehnquist wrote, “We believe that Roe was wrongly decided, and that it can and should be overruled consistently with our traditional approach to stare decisis in constitutional cases.”
So, to echo Krauthammer, the issue is quite complicated.
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