The Plank



Many have commented on the extraordinary nonchalance of Rudy Giuliani's response to the debate question of whether it'd be a good thing if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. What struck me, though, was the extent to which he carelessly demolished the code he's been relying on to allay social conservatives' fears on this very subject:

It would be OK to repeal it. It would be OK also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent and I think a judge has to make that decision.

Social conservatives (for the most part at least) don't want "strict constructionist" judges because they are deeply wedded to a particular form of judicial reasoning. They want them because the phrase is code for pro-life. That's why Giuliani has used the term so often: to reassure conservatives that, whatever his personal beliefs, he'll appoint pro-life judges. But now that he's explicitly decoupled the phrase "strict constructionist" from being pro-life, I'm not sure where that leaves him: Vote for me and, whatever my personal beliefs, I'll appoint judges who might be pro-life?

--Christopher Orr

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