Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Why "Stealth" is Wrong

The following is taken from Garry Bauer's daily letter.

I have made no secret of the fact that I believe it is a mistake for people of faith and the Republican Party to embrace a "stealth" strategy on Supreme Court nominees. Such a strategy requires that nominees for the Court not have a written or verbal record on overturning Roe v. Wade. The pro-stealth advocates argue that if a nominee did have a record in favor of repealing Roe, the nominee could not be confirmed.

My objection to the stealth strategy is two-fold. First, it is "defeatist." It assumes that even in a Senate with 55 Republicans and a few Democrats from pro-life states (Nelson in Nebraska, Landrieu in Louisiana) we can not win a direct vote if our nominee is clearly against Roe, clearly against court decisions in favor of same-sex "marriage," and clearly against court decisions that threaten religious liberty. I am not a defeatist and I am not going to start being one now. I believe we can win that debate with the public and in the Senate. But, of course, we will never know if we don't try. And by not trying we have already allowed Schumer, Feinstein, Clinton and Kennedy to triumph with their bullying tactics.

My second objection is that the strategy is corrupting. It requires us to be part of a process that says one thing to the media while whispering something else to faith-based conservatives. Thus, on the Miers nomination we are privately assured that Miss Miers is personally pro-life (which I believe to be true), while at the same time her advocates tell senators that her personal pro-life views tell us nothing about whether she will vote to overturn Roe (which, unfortunately, I also believe to be true).

To me this is very sad. It is teaching young conservatives and Christians very bad lessons about what is acceptable in politics. As people of faith we are supposed to transform politics. Instead it appears to be transforming some of us. We should be (I know it sounds naïve) speaking the truth. Unrestricted abortion-on-demand is wrong. Same-sex "marriage" is wrong. Taking "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance is wrong. Our nominee, we hope, will apply a judicial philosophy that leads to better results on these issues. Do you have a problem with that Senators Kennedy and Schumer? Great. Let's debate it and let the people and the Senate decide!

The preferred stealth strategy leads to the absurdities that took place yesterday. In one incident, Harriet Miers met with pro-abortion Republican Senator Arlen Specter. After the meeting, Specter excitedly told the media that Miers had endorsed a "right to privacy" in the Constitution, which is the philosophical basis for abortion-on-demand. The reporters all ran to file their stories - "She won't overturn Roe." Stop the presses! A few hours later, Miss Miers calls Senator Specter and says: "You misunderstood me. I am not going to tell you my position on privacy."In incident two, a story leaked out about a conference call in which I participated. In that conference call, two judges from Texas who know Miers reportedly said that they personally believe she would overturn Roe v. Wade. But both judges have since said publicly that in 25 years of knowing her she has never said a word about Roe. Last night, after she met with another left-wing senator, Charles Schumer (D-NY), the senator came out of his office and said that Harriet Miers was adamant, telling him, "No one knows how I would vote on Roe v. Wade." On this, I completely agree - no one does know, and that is the problem.

Also yesterday, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call ran an article that cast some doubts on one of Miers' main "selling points" - her role in the vetting process for President Bush's judicial nominees. The White House Counsel's office is responsible for much of that vetting process and President Bush repeatedly said of Miers, "She knows exactly the kind of judge I'm looking for." (And because she knows the kinds of judges the president is looking for, we are supposed to assume she would be one of them herself.) But, according to Roll Call, "Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers led the selection process on only a small number of judicial nominees." This makes sense since she has only been White House Counsel for eight months.

Virtually all of the conservative, high pro-file nominees who were filibustered by Senate liberals were vetted by Attorney General Al Gonzales when he was White House counsel, not Harriet Miers. The possible exception to that may be Janice Rogers Brown. The article did note that in 2003 Miers was asked to serve on an ad hoc committee, along with at least a half dozen other White House staffers, that assisted in the vetting process. Whether or not Miers was a strong advocate for Brown remains unclear.

Today, there is a breaking story that says Miss Miers filled out a pro-life questionnaire in 1989 and in it indicated she supported a constitutional amendment banning most abortions. But before pro-lifers could take solace in that, the White House issued a statement saying the questionnaire means nothing because in 1989 she was "a candidate taking a political position," and this is "different from the role of a judge making a ruling in the judicial process." White House spokesman Scott McClellan said they are "not at all" aware how Miers would vote on overturning Roe.

And, just to make things even more odd, Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid, whose job it is to defeat anything halfway decent that this president wants to do, yesterday sounded like he was on the White House payroll. Reid held a press conference on Capitol Hill practically begging Harriet Miers not to withdraw her nomination. He also accused Miers' conservative critics of being sexist saying, "As Laura Bush has said, as [Senator] Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said, there is a whiff of sexism in the far right's complaining about Harriet Miers."

This debate is like riding on a yo-yo. Will she or won't she? Only she knows for sure. Call me an old fashioned, but I want to know what a judge's inclinations are. Conservative senators should have never voted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who thinks the age of consent should be lowered to 12. And they should be careful now.


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