Thursday, July 02, 2009

Questioning Sotomayor

Hadley Arkes provides a suggestion for Republican senators regarding what they should question Judge Sotomayor about.
The Republicans can simply ask Judge Sotomayor to explain what Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton established. If she just says those cases established a right to abortion for the first three months of the pregnancy, the Republicans can correct her, and correct her on national television. For the right to abortion actually extends through the entire length of the pregnancy.....

From the exchanges that would emerge from this line of questioning, two critical points would be established, points that could transform the hearings:

(1) It would be clear that most people in the country — including many people who call themselves “pro-choice” — think that some abortions may be rightly regarded as unjustified, and rightly barred. And as it turns out, the law that has been shaped by the Supreme Court could be read as quite open to such restrictions on abortion in particular cases. It is arguable also that five of the justices now sitting would be willing to sustain those restrictions, depending on the case at hand. Does Judge Sotomayor understand the law in that way? Or does she think that the law springing from Roe v. Wade mandates nothing but abortion on demand, for any reason at all, at any time? If so — and if she could actually speak those lines — she would bring jolting news to many people in the country who know little about the state of the law. But if she reads the law as it actually stands now — a law open to restrictions on abortion in particular cases — that too would come as news to a large part of the public. It would also induce the most wholesome gnashing of teeth through all ranks of the Obama administration, along with a sinking feeling of buyer’s remorse among the most zealous supporters of abortion rights.

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