Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Let’s Turn the Clock Back to 1972!

That’s George Will’s pro-Giuliani advice. That means that social conservatives should forget about their their progressively more ineffectual and unfashionable concerns about abortion and homosexuality and embrace the most competent competent candidate--the only guy who could defeat the competent Hillary in November. Conservatives, for their own good, should imaginatively return to a time when they weren’t abortion-obsessed in order to take a broader view of our country need now.

George is right that the voters will be reacting big-time in some or way another against the president’s perceived incompetence in 2008. But isn’t the social conservative objection to Giuliani that he’s against turning the clock back to 1972--the year before ROE v. WADE disfigured our country’s political life? In 1972, abortion and same-sex marriage weren’t compelling as national issues because nobody much imagined that they could be resolved in an extreme, national way by the Court. In 1972, abortion policy, as George observes, was the product of legislative compromise on a state-by-state basis.

What Rudy needs to do to unite his party in a way that might produce victory in November is to explain why it’s right--constitutionally correct-- that he should appoint judges that would take us back to 1972. For now, he and George seem to agree that judicial restraint means putting the controversy the Court caused behind us by regarding ROE, as the Court claimed in PLANNED PARENTHOOD, as a watershed precedent that must remain undistrubed.

Will may well be right that most states wouldn’t restrict abortion much and that American opinion is progressing in a direction that will produce public acceptance of same-sex marriage. But it still makes a lot of difference whether such issues are resolved by the people’s moral deliberation and legislation or by judicial fiat that marginalizes much of our country.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Sounds like historicism to me, all this clock talk.

One comment, Peter. We'd have to go back before 1972 and we'd have to uproot Brennan's egregiously bad "contributions" (sic) from our constitutional jurisprudence. In 1972 he penned the majority opinion for Eisenstadt v. Baird. In it he extended Griswold's "privacy"-rights (which ostensibly had been reserved or restricted to "married couples") to the bare individual. He redefined marriage in a radically individualistic way, and he said that equality under the law meant married and unmarried individuals could not be denied access to contraceptives. (Carey in 1977 said even minors couldn't be denied! Rehnquist went ballistic and rightly so.) And - in a ominous, utterly clear portent - Brennan added that the state couldn't interfere with the individual's privacy rights or choices including whether "to bear or beget" a child. He clearly signaled Roe, in other words. He probably colluded with the way-over-his head Blackmun (I think I remember reading something to that effect a while back, even before Jan C. Greenberg's recent book). (Of course, Blackmun took a somewhat different - medical - tack in Roe, but the spirit and guiding light came from Brennan.) So, all I'm saying is that a certain sort of liberal-progressive jurisprudence is to blame, with its infamous "heroes," and not just Roe. Of course, Rudy knows nothing about this and couldn't care less; and George Will, who may have known it, has abandoned what he learned from Bob Faulkner and John Marshall. Sad.

Let's all become Whigs once again, ....... is that it?

The Republican Party grew out of disgust with the Whigs determination to avoid discussing or considering the morality of slavery. That means at its root, the GOP HAS TO HAVE a sensitivity to moral norms, to OBJECTIVE moral norms. Otherwise we lose our right to claim the title "the Party of Lincoln."

We can't make our peace with quotas, with affirmative action.

We can't make our peace with abortion.

We can't pretend, as Mark Steyn remarked, to be "all cool and relaxed" about flagrant homosexuality.

We can't pretend that there isn't an OBJECTIVE moral law, and we can't pretend that the Almighty doesn't exist.

This doesn't mean that all of us need to be delivering the speech that Pat Buchanan made to the GOP Convention. But it does mean that we can't allow Rudy to nominate OPENLY pro-choice judges, just as an example. Republicans have often put up on the Court men and women who revealed themselves to be pro-choice. But we never did so openly, where that position was known beforehand.

Rudy can easily get the nomination. And we can easily support him. Just so long as he promises to appoint Originalist lawyers throughout his Executive Branch, and Originalist judges throughout the federal judiciary. That's all we ask. We expect him not to agitate against the moral sensitivity of the base of the Party. If he can do that, and there's no reason why he shouldn't be able to do that, then he should sail through to the nomination. But if he's going to go out there and start agitating for the platform of the Party to reflect his views, and the views of the Rockefeller Republicans, then we've got problems, big time.

of course Paul as usual is right...I was just going with the ridiculous premise of Will's fairly dishonest article.

Dishonest is right. This is not turning the clock back before Roe, but accepting the autonomous individualism Paul identifies as truth, and worthy of resigned acceptance. Ignored also is the effect of bad law and bad philosophy on human behavior, on "social trends." This would not be a return to whiggism, right Dan, but acquiescence to a post-Dred Scott regime.

I take it it is Dr. Will's view that it is a waste of time to concern ourselves with the sanctity of life and marriage as it detracts attention from the really important stuff, like the perfidy of campaign finance regulations (on which he will be issuing his 1,000th column next week).


You all the experts on this sort of thing, but was it not Clinton Rossiter whose advice it was that the soi-disant conservatives of his day get busy with defending the interests of the business sectors or close up shop? Dr. Will began his career as an ironic observer of contemporary life as seen through the eyes of a somewhat perturbed husband and father living in the suburbs of Washington (perturbed, among other things, by the decay in sensibilities manifested in such things as the abortion regime). He appears determined to end it in execution of Clinton Rossiter's wishes: as the house ideologist of the Chamber of Commerce.

Many races believe that the Universe was created by some sort of god or in the Big Bang. The Jatravartid people, however, believe that the Universe was sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure. They live in perpetual fear of the time they call "The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief."

Of course I'm not usually right, while Peter almost always is. If my post prompted him to (rightly) characterize GW's column as "ridiculous" and "fairly dishonest" I'm pleased. Sad about George (said in kindof an Ann Richards tone-of-voice).

Truly, sorry about George. He led me in the right direction in the 70's.

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