Bush on Dred Scott, was he actually referring to Roe V Wade?

A friend sent me an article from Slate suggesting that Dred Scott is actually code for Roe V Wade. Far fetched? Possibly. But looking at the arguments put forth, there may be a link.

First, the debate transcript:

Next, info from the Slate article linked above:

So, was Bush talking about Roe V Wade? Was he speaking towards judicial fiats? Or is a cigar just a cigar and he was talking about Dred Scott? (Did Bush forget about 3/5ths?)

I think he was talking more towards the points of judicial fiats. Especially considering his push for a marriage amendment in the last year.

A cigar is just a cigar. He was talking about Dred Scott. Bricker went into this in detail in the last debate thread…maybe he’ll come into this thread and expand on his thoughts.


Actually I shouldn’t have put words in his mouth…my bad. Thats just MY opinion that Bush was not talking in a convoluted way about RvW.


Wow. I haven’t heard of that before. But it is readily apparent that the President knows absolutely-fucking-nothing about the Constitution. Does he really think that, prior to the Civil War, that slavery wasn’t built into the the Constitution? Does that knucklehead not understand why the 13th Amendment was passed?

I’m not saying I buy this, but I guess it would at least make the whole Dred Scott thing make sense.

Sounds like he’s pushing more for judicial fiats to me, too. Bush seems to be saying that it’s perfectly okay for activist judges to implement a sweeping ban on abortion rights, no matter what Congress has decided and no matter what previous Supreme Court verdicts have determined. The similarity between an all-out abortion ban and the Dred Scott decision is that they’re both designed to deny rights to people. They also would apply a universal standard of a particular law to the whole country. I agree with the component of the Dred Scott decision that holds that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional, since it applied different standards to different parts of the country. I disagree with slavery, but speaking of constitutional rights, we do need to apply an all-encompassing standard.

The Dred Scott decision energized abolitionists, and I believe that an abortion ban would energize those in favor of abortion rights. I don’t see a civil war growing out of such a ban, but I do see more mobilization on the part of the public if this should happen. This is one reason why the election of 2004 is so crucial: if Bush gets to appoint a couple more justices this year, the composition of the Supreme Court could be bent in opposition to abortion rights well after Bush and those like him are out of office. The only hope for abortion rights would be for the president to appoint new justices at some future date, which is not inconceivable. The possibility of appointing justices in addition to the current nine depends on how out of step with the country the Supreme Court would be after a second Bush term. I believe the Republican Party will rupture one day and eject its social conservatives, probably after Bush leaves office, be it in 2005 or 2009.

I think the idea of adding two or four more justices is a good one anyway, but I guess that’d be a whole other thread.

Gee, and I thought conservatives were dead set against activist judges…

If the SC were to reverse Roe v. Wade, that would not “implement a sweeping ban on abortion rights.” It would only strip abortion of its constitutional protection, and reduce it to the status of an ordinary political issue to be decided by Congress and the state legislatures. Which means pro-choicers would simply have to fight for abortion rights in a different set of political arenas.

I think he meant what he said. A lot of modern conservatives believe that the Dred Scott decision was as much of an indefensible use of substantive due process as Roe v. Wade or Lawrence v. Texas, and that today’s justices are promoting their own personal agenda through a shady use of the Constitution in much the same way that Justice Taney was twisting the Constituion to strike down Congressional limitations on slavery in Dred Scott.

I would disagree. This is a direction Alan Keyes has been taking, too, comparing abortion to slavery, and it’s starting to get some traction among the Pro-Life crowd. Bush’s Dred Scott references may be a more subtle way of introducing the concept to the American people.


It isn’t as well-known among the general population, but the Lochner era of cases – striking down minimum wage/maximum hour laws on an invented “right to contract” – is an even better example. Even though conservatives might applaud the free-market policy result, there’s no getting around the fact that those decisions were not tied to the constitutional text. And thus, conservatives (at least, principled conservatives) decry Lochner and its progeny just as much as they decry Lawrence.

Basically, some folks like to slime modern “substantive due process” (i.e., the right to teach your kids to speak languages other than English, the right to use birth control if you’re married, the right to use birth control even if you’re not married, the right to diddle other consenting adults of the opposite gender, the right to have an abortion without having the state get excessively involved unless you’re a minor, the right to maybe refuse life-sustaining medical treatment so long as you’ve made your desire clear beyond the shadow of any doubt before you were incapacitated, and the right to diddle other consenting adults of the same gender–did I miss any, Dewey?) by associating it with 19th century evil. Never mind the substantive differences between slavery and getting laid–there are superficial similarities between the cases, so that shows the courts are destroying the very foundations of our democracy. Or something like that.

By the way, Dewey, you’ll be happy to know that I thought of you as soon as El Presidente mentioned Dred Scott the other night. Of course, his delivery was hopeless, but for one brief moment, I wondered whether the presidential handlers had once accidentally wandered through the SDMB. :wink:

This quote was asking the question about Dred Scott and what the ehck was Bush talking about!?! I was asking the same question! But, the real question is did even Bush know what the heck he was talking about?

The last debate will be very interesting…

  • Jinx

Jinx, I was wondering that, too. “Karl, who’s this Scott guy and why am I supposed to dread him?”

Warning, anti-abortion links posted. Click at your own risk.

Here’s a page that has been claiming parallels between abortion and Dred Scott since at least 2000.

Here’s a speech from 1993 by Gov. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania. The site claims the speech was published in the Spring, 1993 issue of the Human Life Review under the title “Law Without Honor” if anyone wants to check. This particular site prefaces the speech with this comment:

Here’s a quote regarding the topic from the actual speech:

I’ve accessed plenty of other sites by googling for “Dred Scot” and “abortion” together, but I thought I’d offer these up. It looks likely that it was code for abortion.

That’s what I was thinking. It serves two purposes, 1) active prolifers understand the lingo and are reassured and 2) what you said, trying the argument out on the American people.

Makes me sick. Sick, I tell ya.

From The National Review:

Well, that’s only going to help people find anti-abortionists who can’t spell. If you want anti-abortionists who can spell, try “Dred Scott.”

signed, a pro-choicer who can’t spell. :smiley:

I just can’t believe this “Dred Scott = code for Roe v Wade” thing. In these appearances, Bush is trying to sway the greatest number of undecided voters. His code-speak would be assuming that there are large numbers of undecided voters for whom ending abortion is a huge priority, and that they are familiar with this code. This just isn’t realistic - most anti-abortion zealots already know who they’re voting for. And how many of the population of undecided voters even know what Dred Scott was about anyway?

Then again, maybe those folks think that Dred Scott was the decision in 1973 that invalidated anti-abortion laws. That I could believe.

You’re soooooooo right about the delivery. I doubt very seriously that Bush actually understood that particular bullet point on the debate prep memo. I actually said, out loud, “you idiot, you’re taking a perfectly sound argument and completely fucking it up.”

And it is a sound argument. As an exercise for the class, read minty’s post carefully. Underneath the thick outer coating of snarkiness you’ll find nothing at its core but hand-waving dismissals. There’s just no getting around the fact that the same logic underlying Lawrence also underlies Dred Scott and Lochner.