This Is Not One To Fight

The protests around Obama’s honorary degree from Notre Dame University had many of the more politically progressive Catholic voices complaining that pro-life advocates had moved into a practice of loudly protesting absolutely everything that seemed vaguely positive for Obama without regard for whether it was an important issue.  As someone who cares about the integrity of Catholic education, I think they were wrong in regards to Notre Dame’s decision to give Obama an honorary law degree — it was a big deal and it was appropriate to decry the choice.

However, I think that Jay Anderson and Feddie are right in making the case that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is not something that pro-life groups should be knocking themselves out to contest.

Given how early it is in his presidency and how high his political approval ratings are, Obama could have decided to spend political capital and put a top notch, liberal intellectual ideologue on the court who could work to shift the balance strongly to the left. Instead, he made the fairly bland, identify politics “first” pick which had been conventional wisdom in Democratic circles for some time, despite the doubts of those who wanted to see a more intellectual and ideological pick. As pro-lifers, we certainly don’t need to praise this pick. She is doubtless pro-choice and will work to support Roe and other Culture of Death decisions. But we also don’t need to pick this to raise a stink over. She will be confirmed regardless, given the composition of the senate, and if we can both conserve our political energy and provide Obama with some positive reinforcement that sticking to bland conventional wisdom candidates will be rewarded with a lack of partisan rancor, so much the better.

Again, I’m not saying that pro-lifers need to praise or support Sotomayor, but Obama could have stuck it to us a lot worse — and since kicking a fuss will achieve nothing other than encouraging the administration to play only to their base next time with a strictly ideological pick (and win the pro-life movement more of a reputation for constant shrillness) this would be a good time for us to hold our fire and concentrate on other things, like the next crop of pro-life candidates.

12 Responses to This Is Not One To Fight

  1. Anthony says:

    Agreed. There doesn’t seem to be much point to fighting this one… and besides, he will likely have 1-2 more opportunities to change the court. Maybe even 3 if Obama wins a second term.

    On the other hand, Sotomayor is just one more list in a long line if judges, both conservative and liberal that typically rule in favor of the state, but that is a larger philosophical debate that has long been forgotten.

  2. jh says:

    She needs to be fully vetted. I oppose any attempt to rush this through. From a conservative viewpoint we need to use this as an opportunity for Public Education

    Plus there are large areas where she has been silent on. Such as National Secuirity concerns etc

    Also this points out the talking point that Demcorats and Republicans are all the same is sort of silly.

    Election has hve consuqunces

    However I agree there is not need to go out on this. Especially since we need to be looking to the future and preserving or forming a new bipartisan gang of 14 if the Republicans get back the WHite House in 2012

  3. Jay Anderson says:

    “… encourage the administration to play only to their base … with a strictly ideological prick …”

    Never was a typo filled with so much truth.


  4. Jay Anderson says:

    You have pointed out one of my primary concerns when you discuss the shrillness of pro-life groups on this pick.

    There is a real risk of “Boy Who Cried Wolf” Syndrome. If pro-lifers cry “WOLF!” over this fairly conventional (albeit liberal) pick, despite the fact that there is nothing in her record to paint her as some sort of radical ideologue on abortion, then no one will take us seriously when a REAL radical ideologue with the intellectual heft to shape the Court – say, Diane Wood – comes along as Obama’s next pick.

  5. Anthony says:

    “Also this points out the talking point that Demcorats and Republicans are all the same is sort of silly.

    Election has hve consuqunces”

    They do have consequences… except that the consequences are all too often exactly the same with both political wings.

  6. jh says:


    As to the Court I am not sure how the Consequences are the same

    There is world of difference between lets say an Alito and the current nominee. Heck while many people pile on Kennedy he is no Ginsburg

  7. Matt McDonald says:

    She needs to be fully vetted. I oppose any attempt to rush this through. From a conservative viewpoint we need to use this as an opportunity for Public Education

    I agree 100%, the efforts should be focused demonstrating on the error of the liberal approach to jurisprudence which is very unpopular (activism), and the inherent racism of the liberal worldview.

    They should question her in ways to bring out all of the beliefs about the Constitution that separate liberals from mainstream Americans including the right to abortion, but avoid any sort of reaction, and especially avoid anything resembling a personal attack.

    I don’t think that the Republicans should support her nomination at all though, they should vote against her but no extraordinary or obstructive measures. As you said, focus on a teachable moment.

  8. I suspect politicians make bad teachers, especially in public disputes. Their reported comments will be reduced to soundbites not of their choosing. And how much can you teach in a soundbite?

    Movement pro-lifers often wait for political or cultural events to do their thing.

    I don’t think political events teach well. Some Colorado pro-lifers thought a Personhood Amendment would be a great way to educate about the embryo. But politics’ adversarial nature makes lots of people wary and unreceptive.

    Roe can’t be overturned without major public figures prepping the country for a post-Roe world. But are politicians those public figures?

  9. Phillip says:

    Unfortunately I think Kevin’s right. Add to that the fact that the media will distort whatever pro-life message is being taught. All at the same time presenting Sotomayor as a persecuted woman with a “compelling story.” No way to win. But that’s the way it generally is.

  10. Phillip says:

    The one big problem with Sotomayor is that she may not be competent to be on the court:

  11. Matt McDonald says:


    I think if the confirmation questions are carefully written without any negativity, just asking her to explain her beliefs and judicial philosophy it should not backfire.

    As to her “competence” clearly all of the liberal sitting justices lack any proper understanding of the separation of powers, so whatever her shortcomings she is in good company.

  12. Phillip says:

    I don’t know. The well written questions won’t be reported by the media or distorted. But perhaps with blogs they can be reported.

    How about we bet a beer on it?

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