Supporting Roberts, the conservative movement sells out its principles

Only last evening did I focus on Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts’s past statements about abortion, and it is clear that he is not opposed to Roe v. Wade. Yet the pro-life movement and the social conservatives are supporting him anyway.

Read the following excerpt from CNN:

Arguing a case for the first Bush administration in 1990 when he was deputy solicitor general, Roberts said Roe v. Wade “was wrongly decided and should be overruled.”

In his 2003 confirmation hearing, however, he told senators he was acting as an advocate for his client, rather than presenting his own positions.

He told senators Roe was “the settled law of the land” and said “there’s nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent.”

The fact that Roberts contradicted himself on these two occasions has led some of his conservative apologists to say that his position is ambiguous, so we can’t know how he would vote on Roe. In fact, his 2003 statement abrogates his 1990 statement. In 1990 he said that Roe should be overruled. In 2003 he said that his 1990 statement did not represent his own views, and his own views are in conformity with treating Roe as a precedent that must be followed.

So there is no ambiguity here. Roberts is pro-Roe. For the social conservatives to support him is a total betrayal of what they supposedly stand for. I have always been critical of the social conservative movement for being a one-note movement, for only opposing abortion and not the whole range of our cultural and moral ills. But now it turns out that the social conservatives do not even stand for the one thing that they supposedly stand for! As explained in this Friday’s New York Times, the White House spent a year schmoozing the social conservatives into compliance with a possible Roberts nomination. The fruits of the sales job are to be heard everywhere this week, with conservatives falling all over themselves to assure us what a great, wonderful, magnificent, talented, nice fellow this Roberts is.

How do they fool themselves? The White House, aided by conservative figures such as Jay Sekulow and Hadley Arkes, convinced the conservatives that on the basis of Roberts’ personal demeanor and relationships—for example, the fact that he gets along well with social conservatives, and that his wife is anti-abortion—he really is anti-Roe, even though, as I’ve just shown, his public statements indicate clearly that he is pro-Roe. So it is a total surrender by the conservative movement to President Bush, who lied to them when he said, over and over, that he would pick a judge with the philosophy of Thomas or Scalia. These people ought to go into some other line of work. They stand for nothing. They are useless. As I said through all of 2004, if Bush were re-elected, he would keep moving conservatism leftward, and that is what he is doing.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 23, 2005 09:52 AM | Send

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