Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Thomas Eagleton, RIP

Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern’s erstwhile running mate in 1972, has died. The obits, and most accounts of the 1972 campaign, omit to mention that Eagleton, a devout Catholic, was staunchly pro-life. Amazing to consider that the feminist movement in 1972 was not strong or organized enough to exercise a veto against a pro-life running mate on a Democratic ticket. Twenty years later the party wouldn’t allow a pro-life governor (Casey) to even speak at the convention, let alone be considered as a running mate. It is also an irony of the McGovern campaign, attacked by Republicans as being about "acid, amnesty, and abortion," was the last Democratic ticket with a pro-life running mate, even if just for a few days. Ironically, McGovern’s position on abortion in 1972 was actually the same as the mainstream Republican position today: Abortion should be left to the states. This was, of course, before Roe made abortion a sacrosanct right to the Left. Eagleton, however, never followed Gore, Gephardt, and the rest in throwing his conscience over the side for political expediency. RIP.

Discussions - 25 Comments

Steve, fine post. Was Sarge Shriver pro-life too?

This is from MSNBC.com’s story on Sen. Eagleton’s death: "Eagleton was considered liberal, but he criticized busing to achieve school desegregation and, as a practicing Roman Catholic, strongly opposed abortion." RIP.

I think Shriver was pro-life; I forgot that. But I think he eased away from his pro-life views, even by 1976, when he made a run himself for the Dem nomination.

Gary: Good catch; the obit I saw first made no mention. Glad MSNBC got it right.

Steve, leaving abortion to the states isn’t our final position. It’s an interim one, while we continually focus our efforts, hone our persuasive skills and slowly, but surely win over the decent American people, who when confronted with the true details of what happens during an abortion, will demand its end in our land.

So the states position is a fall back one, but isn’t the final position of the GOP. Even when Roe is overturned, as it will ultimately be, the GOP platform will continue to proscribe abortion. And we have to. We can’t be the party of Lincoln and make our peace with racial quotas, we can’t be the party born from the abolition movement and be content with the horrors of abortion.

We are what we are.

And one more thing, we can’t be the party of Lincoln and make peace with shariaa. We can’t be the party of Lincoln and continue to throw in mosques at the end to references to "churches and synagogues."

Between us and what occurs in the mosques is an abyss. And we can’t cross it, and remain the party of Lincoln, of Coolidge, of Teddy Roosevelt, of Grant, Eisenhower and Reagan.

The Bush family may break bread with Bandar and his family, the house of al saud, they may pretend, so can Baker, so can Scowcroft. But not AMERICA, and NOT the party of Lincoln.

"We hold these truths baby!"

And another thing, whether this particular Democrat is "pro-life" or not is irrelevant.

Does that person support Democrat control of both Houses of Congress, did that person support Metzenbaum being on the judiciary committee, did that person support Biden, Leahy and Kennedy?

I really question the depth and the sincerity of their beliefs. How can anybody be serious about the life issue and remain a Democrat, support Dukakis, support Clinton, support Gore and Kerry.

"You cannot serve God and Mammon." It was true then, it’s no less true now.

For my part, I reject abortion, I reject the political party that has gained political power through playing abortion politics, I reject a party that COERCES others to suport their perverted view of abortion. I reject them root and branch.

mainstream Republican position today: Abortion should be left to the states.

Along with Dan, I found this statement curious also...

Steve: I was startled, and glad, to read how forthrightly MSNBC.com reported Sen. Eagleton’s position on abortion. It (the straightforward reporting) was just so....unexpected.

I’m confused: if Eagleton was so pro-life, why did he work so hard for the Missouri ESCR ballot inititative?

If leaving abortion to the states is not the final Republican position, does this mean continuous political organization against abortion in the states (and accepting variation among the states), or does it still mean working for a constitutional amendment (unlikely), or does it mean seeking a Supreme Court ruling against abortion? I don’t see how you can be against abortion and not want to stop it throughout the nation.

Of course we want to stop it throughout the nation.

But we’re not quite so dumb as to make the perfect the enemy of the good, we’re not about to make the final goal an obstacle to interim, real success.

Once Roe is overthrown, and it’s equally horrible progeny, then the issue will be tossed back to the several states. Then the pro-life organizations will focus their efforts at the state level, specifically those states still enthralled to the fallacies and immoralities of the pro-choice crowd.

Roe is the legal codification of an evil, ugly attitude about existence, about man’s place in existence, about man’s claims to being God. When Roe was passed, the Catholic Church immediately went out there and said, you opt for abortion, you’ll have euthanasia within a generation. And we did.

Roe is bad news. The collapse of Judeo-Christianity in the West, the marginalization of Judeo-Christian values and sanity in the West has opened the door to the ultimate enemy of the West, islam.

What did Malcolm Muggeridge brand it, "the great liberal death wish." And that’s what we’re seeing, Europeans won’t procreate, Americans are barely over the replacement threshold, radical cultural relativism, moral relativism, institutional loss of confidence, the elevation of the race/class/gender prism to supremacy in our universities, rehab, trips back to rehab, ....... and now, liberals have opened the door of the West itself to her murderers.

Doesn’t the Left ever get weary of trying to destroy the West?

That’s what I’m getting at. If abortion (along with Roe) is an evil, then (assuming the reversal of Roe) why is political opposition in the several states an adequate response? Political opposition is for things that are negotiable.

As evil as abortion may be, there is no constitutional justification for getting rid of it in those states where it already exists. We should focus on making sure that it doesn’t spread into the territories, though.

Old Abe - You really ask us to believe you??!!

Could *I* speak?

Shut up, slave. Ah’m in the midst of discoursin’ on the ee-ternal virtue of human freedom. Now git, before ah grab mah bullwhip!

Steve, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor was the Roe decision without its antecedents. It’s going to take time to overthrow the abortion regime.

I was asking HOW you overthrow it? As noted above, Lincoln said "If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong" and then said he had neither the inclination nor the power to do anything about slavery where it already existed. Southern leaders did not believe him, or did not believe that his own moderation could stem the tide.

So if abortion is an evil, then surely John Hayward is wrong: leaving abortion to the states is leaving the states to vote abortion up or down. Why wouldn’t you want the Supreme Court to find a way to ban and criminalize abortions?

Sorry just to repeat myself.

How? Oh, well that’s rather straightforward. It’s all about votes on the Supreme Court. All abortion decisions that have any real effect on the number of abortions goes to the Supreme Court.

REALLY! Even minor regulatory matters such as how to dispose of a fetus afterwards goes to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court does not like sweeping decisions. They pare away. Roe followed Griswold if you recall. The most serious challenge to Roe came in Casey, which I can’t recommend you read highly enough.

So though we might like to see the Court reverse Casey and NOT deliver the issue back to the states, but wholly bar abortion, that won’t happen. For it would be too dramatic a swing. ROE was such a swing. And that hasn’t worked out too well for the Court, and if you read the Casey ruling, you’ll see that THEY KNOW THAT. But they’re stuck with Roe and abortion, and they also think they’re stuck with a nation that DEMANDS abortion. They really think women would be ripping their clothes off or something for Roe.

Read the full Casey decision, and you’ll pick up why the Court doesn’t want to wholly reverse it, and you’ll also learn who intensely the Court micromanages abortion in our country.

You have to read the Scalia dissent. Just have to.

But to answer your query more directly, and not to leave you hanging, and to give you an insight into how the Court prefers to handle matters, this is how it will roughly unfold.

1} Casey is overturned, throwing the issues back to the several states.

2} Some particular radical blue state such as Massachusetts for instance, will pass additional legislation providing STATE funding for abortions. This will have the effect of making Massachusetts an abortion magnet. Some Catholic pro-life group in Mass will bring an action protesting the use of their tax dollars for so immoral and religiously offensive a procedure. They may challenge in state or federal court. This will percolate upwards, and as it goes upwards, it will garner increased news coverage. So now it gets to the Supreme Court, and the narrow issue is the use of tax dollars supporting abortions. Whereas previous rulings following Roe allowed such public expenditures, with a new Court, with new Justices, it will go the other way. States will be prohibited from using public dollars for private abortions. So there is one more pro-life victory.

3} Some abortion providers in states allowing abortions will have been found to have discarded the killed fetus in an inhumane fashion. Some Catholic pro-life group will agitate against that, and finally commence legal action requiring particular and sensitive handling for the human remains from a successful abortion. This too will percolate upwards in the court system, landing at the USSC. Where an originalist court will rule that whereas before, abortion providers could do what they wanted with the remains, inasmuch as they weren’t human, NOW following the reversal of Casey, the Court will order that such remains be disposed with in a "human fashion." That phrase, "humane fashion" will be extensively litigated. But that will be another pro-life victory, and the pro-choices will begin to see how they are being slowly strangled.

4} Then you’ll get a case where some radical abortionist type takes the daughter of her Evangelical neighbor to New York City for an abortion, and the parent will sue the pro-choicer, AND commence an action saying that her legal rights to raise her child were impaired upon because of the availability of abortion services in a neighboring state. This will percolate upwards, again garnering increased news attention on the way upwards. Now THIS might be the type of case that PLACES SQUARELY before the Court the WHOLE question of declaring abortion unconstitutional. But maybe not. It might take additional paring away.

But that should give a feel for how issues that get to the Court involve slivers of an issue, and almost never the entirety thereof.

Dan - I have been interested in differences among conservatives, and Hayward prompted all this.

I’m opposed to the "activist" Court you foresee. Like Hayward, I’d prefer political accommodation in the states and accept variation among them.

. . .and in this I find I agree with Justice Scalia’s dissent in . Casey.

But that "political accommodation" necessarily has within it the possibility for continued agitation and legal action against abortion.

The "activism" of the Court was on display in Roe. Now, after thirty years of an abortion culture, abortion is understood as being part of the fabric of our land, at least to a certain extent, at least in certain states. That’s an attitude that arose AFTER the activism of the Roe Court.

You’re position effectively concedes the damage that activist Court did, and tries to minimize it, but at the end of the day, "conserves" it. This is akin to Gingrich’s quip about Dole "Tax collector for the Welfare state."

Through such a process, Conservatives simply ratify previous gains of radicals and liberals. Attempts at overturning those gains, attempts at setting the board back to the beginning, are labeled "conservative activism."

This isn’t a recipe for Conservative success.

Take a look at the damage the radical left has done to our society since the ’60s. Conservative legal scholarship isn’t about stasis, isn’t about preserving the status quo, regardless of how much that status quo has been informed by radical gains. If that’s the case, then Conservatives are nothing but reactionaries and blockheads, who have nothing more to offer than a constant "NO."

And in that last post, there is a "you’re" where there should be a simple "your." But I usually don’t correct blog posts.

Dan - I’m not sure I understand you. Earlier I making a point about process, and you seemed to look forward to (1) the reversal of Roe which would leave the legality of abortion to the states; and then eventually (2) another decision by the Supreme Court that would make abortion unconstitutional and legally available nowhere. This - that is, (2) - would seem to be at odds with what Scalia says in his Casey dissent. According to him, there are "reasonable people on both sides" of the question, and each state should decide for itself using a politics of persuasion.

In other words, Mr. Justice Scalia does not think that abortion is constitutionally or morally comparable to slavery. I wonder if you agree - or perhaps you have in effect already responded.

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