Could Roe vs. Wade be overturned by Dubya?

I mean, could he do it?
From what I understand, one issue is the appointment of Supreme Court candidates. Does anyone HONESTLY think that RvsW will ever be overturned?
My history advisor does not think so, too many support it-and it would political suicide.
Yet so many worry about it.

W. himself cannot.

But he certainly can (and, I would suggest, definitely will) appoint new justices who are anti-abortion. Thus, if he appoints enough of them (which would depend on who retires/dies/whatever), yes, Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

This is one thing that scares me about a possible Bush presidency. Not necessarily the abortion issue per se, but all issues that come to the court.

No, he can’t. And even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, that won’t make abortion illegal, it will simply leave that question to each state to determine.

I think he could. He wants to, it’s been speculated the next president might appoint up to four justices, so that could flip the balance, couldn’t it?

And as for it being political suicide, he’s already explained that away - he won’t be using abortion as a “litmus test” for the judges, so if they just, oh, happen to overturn Roe Vs. Wade, why that would just be an unforseen coinkydink on his part! Oopsie!

Honestly, politicians in this country…is Canada any better?

Can he “attempt” to get Roe vs Wade overturned…? yes he can. As others have mentioned, the main way to “overturn” the decision would be to appoint/replace enough justices to create a “pro life” court.

But, that doesnt mean the justices would necessarily be interested in revisiting Roe per se, and overturning it. They may instead be interested in exploring specific related issues (funding, restrictions, waiting periods, parental or spousal notification) etc…

Then again, justices are not always predictable about what they will do down the road.

And finally, justices need to pass the muster via the Senate Judiciary committee and the full Senate. Depending on the political makeup of the Senate…certain justices (ala Robert Bork etc…) may not get enough votes.

Bush (or any other president) can also influence “some” abortion policies by working with Congress on abortion related legislation that could restrict the number and type of abortions performed. (Although such laws, would be subject to potential Supreme Court review)

Lets be honest here. Gore also denies he would use abortion as a “litmus test”…of course he also says he will defend a woman’s right to choose.

They are both liars. Would Gore EVER nominate a “pro life” Supreme Court justice?==of course not

Would Bush EVER nominate a “pro choice” Supreme Court justice?==of course not

He cannot directly overturn the decision, obviously.

It’s a matter of some speculation how many justices, if any, the next president will get to appoint.

It is possible that sufficient turnover on the high court could affect a future abortion test case, which would leave the abortion issue squarely in the hands of state courts and state legislatures.

  • Rick

beagledave said:

The way it looks now, though, the GOP will still control the Senate, so Bush would not have that obstacle to overcome with his appointments.

yes, I worry. For example - in my state (MI) there was a state wide referendum years ago on “parochiaid” (public funding of private schools). It went down in flames. THIS year, we have proposal 1 which is designed to “test teachers” and have school accountablility and [sub]allow public funding of private schools [/sub] and it’s got a decent chance of winning.

So, the point is: Dubya, if elected, could appoint SCJ’s (who knows how many) who will undoubtably have a chance to revisit RvW (there’s constant re-legislation of abortion laws, constant stream of challenges to them, it would only take ONE of those for them to be able to revisit the basic point of RvW). Then, the national concept would go away and states, individually would be lobbied to make it so. It’s actually much easier to get local units of government to act than it is for a national level. (remember the equal rights amendmant?).

Sorry, I disagree. The current composition (according to Planned Parenthood http://www.plannedparenthood.org/actionfund/pr11498tally.html) is 33 pro choice , 20 mixed, 47 pro life. Depending on the candidate, if the “mixed” senators joined the pro choice senators on a Robert Bork-like candidate, I think there would be a significant obstacle to overcome.

No matter what their abortion stance, I don’t think that Republicans will vote against a Supreme Court appointee by Bush.

I think it depends…if the nominee is perceived as a Robert Bork typee nominee, an ideologue…then I think there are several Republican senators who would oppose him. (Arlen Spector http://www.townhall.com/spotlights/archive/8-28-95/specbio.html )

(Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins http://www2.shore.net/~dkennedy/phoenix_990917maine.html ) etc…

If the nominee does not have an outspoken opinion on abortion,but is a David Souter/Sandra Day O’Connor type, then the nominee will probably pass…

http://www.crlp.org/102199senatevote.html shows a current view of up/down on Roe Vs Wade among senators

sigh For now. Maybe. A little bit.

True, but there are still plenty of other obstacles.

A) As long as the Democrats have 40+ votes (and no one’s speculating that they’ll lose 5 seats, so they’re safe on that) they can filibuster.

B) We’re speculating that, within the next four years, a Justice actually retires. Now, Stevens is 82, and it’s quite possible he’ll step down. But the next oldest is Rehnquist and O’Connor in their mid-70’s, and after that, everyone’s under seventy.

C) I’d also point out that replacing Rehnquist or O’Connor with a pro-life Justice is unlikely to slant the court in any fashion. So for all the talk of “can appoint four Justices” (which seems to assume that every Justice over 72 in 2004 will retire/die, and one Justice under 72 dies), a Bush election has a chance to sway a single vote.
So, what it comes down to is:

Assuming Stevens steps down within the next four years, and assuming that Bush finds a firmly pro-life candidate to replace him (unlike Souter, who his father appointed), and assuming that the Democrats haven’t taken over the Senate (either in the '00 election or the '02 mid-term), and assuming the Democrats don’t filibuster the issue or uncover serious damning info on the SCJ nominee, and assuming that should Rehnquist and/or O’Connor step down the SCJ Bush nominates (who also isn’t filibustered or undone by scandal) is just as conservative as they are, then Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

Five assumptions with three sub-assumptions on the fifth assumption. That doesn’t seem particularly likely to me.

[Edited by John Corrado on 10-18-2000 at 02:41 PM]

John Corrado wrote:

Actually, those all sound like perfectly reasonable assumptions. The GOP will not make another Souter mistake. Since there is a Republican majority in the Senate, Bush can nominate a justice who is openly “pro-life”. Nobody’s going to filibuster on a judicial appointment, for crying out loud. If they didn’t reject Clarence Thomas, they’re not going to filibuster anybody who isn’t a serious whacko.

It is not at all a stretch to assume that Rehnquist and O’Connor will both step down. Both have experienced health problems, and there is an reasonable inference to be made that they are trying to hold out for a Republican administration before they vacate their seats.

Stevens stepping down is made likely by his age, though he may cling to his seat longer than people think.

John Corrado also wrote:

And given the proliferation of 5-4 votes on the Court over the past few years, a single vote may be enough to turn this into a hard-line conservative court, and to overturn Roe v. Wade.

That’s all fne and good, John, but you have to admit that even if it is still unlikely, it is far MORE likely than if Gore was the next president.

And let’s not forget that we have had several votes by The Supremes on choice issues that could have been swung the other way with the “one vote” you at least see as not improbable.


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By “openly” pro life, I assume you mean has a judicial record on the subject or a published written opinion on the subject…something most jurists avoid like the plague.

The last nominee that I can think of who WAS “openly” pro life was Robert Bork…and his nomination was not accepted. Not all Republicans are pro life either…some are outright pro choice (Spector, Snowe, Collins etc…) while others might favor abortion restrictions, but would oppose overturning Roe v Wade completely (what Planned Parenthood calls a “mixed” position).

I’m not sure that an openly pro life jurist (someone who WOULD overturn Roe v Wade, not just accept restrictions ) would automatically survive a nomination procedure. If they are NOT openly pro life…again I’m not sure that they would want to revisit Roe anyway, rather than make modifications.

I think a Bush presidency might eventually lead to jurists who would favor certain restrictions on abortion…I’m not sure that it would automatically be a reversal of Roe v Wade

John, you’re also going strictly by age. The other female justice (I can never remember her name) has been fighting cancer. I think it’s quite possible that she will step down or, well, die, within the next four years.

From what I’ve read, Rehnquist wants to retire, and will almost certainly do so if Bush wins. No, this would not change the balance of the court. But if Gore wins and he still decides to retire, it would bring down the ultra-conservative minority another notch – a safety net, if you will.

beagledave said:

I don’t think you have to have a published opinion to be called “openly pro-life.” I think it was pretty obvious to everybody that Thomas was pro-life. That didn’t stop him from (IMO) lying through his teeth and claiming he had not formed an opinion on the issue – or something to that effect.