How does that work again?

Am I missing something?  If vulnerable Democrat Senators in Red States want to be re-elected in November, they have to consider voters' reaction to their voting to block a Supreme Court candidate.  I can understand that they might hope that voters will agree with them on the litmus-test issue of abortion, so that they might be re-elected if they reject an open proponent of overruling Roe v. Wade.  It's risky but carries an important up-side.

But Dick Durbin appears to be making an argument based on principle, that Red-State Democrat Senators should shoot down a Supreme Court candidate because protecting Roe v. Wade is more important than being re-elected.  Sure, it might be, by their standards, but where does that leave them?  The strategy is based on the assumption that the lost seats are a foregone cost they will willingly pay.  If Durbin is right, they will have delayed confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee only to make the nominee's confirmation more of a cake-walk after the November elections.  It's not as though stopping a particular confirmation strikes a blow for all time.  The same candidate can be proposed again, or another who is basically indistinguishable.

I suppose Durbin might be trying to say that he hopes voters will react in his party's favor, and that it's worth the risk to find out if they will--because if voters will tolerate the destruction of Roe v. Wade, the Democrats might as well give up all hope of controlling the Senate anyway.  If so, abortion truly has become One Issue to Rule Them All.  And yet only something like 1/4 to 1/5 of Americans favor completely unrestricted abortion, while a similar small fraction oppose all abortions.  Everyone else can probably get comfortable with eliminating Roe v. Wade and punting the issue to the state legislatures, most of which will end up allowing at least some abortions.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

One's opinion on abortion is also a cultural identifier for more than just issues, but for membership in one tribe or the other. I am pro-life with modifications, but have to admit that many of the people who are on my side of the issue don't seem to have thought it through clearly. Nor do the pro-choice people I encounter at work impress me with their clarity.

Why this issue and not another? I don't know.

E Hines said...

Fox News Sunday interviewed a lady on the Supreme Court nominee--she was against the nominee, whomever, it didn't matter--even if the outcome was a reversion to the States. She was from Texas, and she knew full well how that would work out.

I think it's too late for the Progressive-Democrats to take a principled stand, as Durbin was trying to do (assuming T99's generous offering is accurate). They've gotten too married to a woman's right to have abortions under whatever circumstances seem appropriate at the time, and they've gotten too married to McConnell stole the Supreme Court slot, and they've gotten too married to Trump stole the election to be able to take any other position for any reason at all. The abortion business as an objection to the upcoming nominee is just a tool for them with which to execute their opposition.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I don't even get why people think this nominee is going to be aimed at Roe anyway. They've just been preparing for this war for so long, they're sure they're going to fight it. The Army makes this mistake sometimes, fighting the war it prepared for instead of the one in front of it.

AVI, I've got very clear philosophical principles, and associated arguments, that run strongly against abortion. But for all that I'm nominally pro-choice, since I would much rather try to convince people with the arguments than use the government to compel them. Some take that to indicate that I don't really think abortion is much like killing a person, but in fact the truth is otherwise; I'd endorse resuming the practice of duels, for example. Killing a person isn't always wrong; but killing an innocent, well...

sykes.1 said...

Roe v. Wade will not be overturned by any Court, because the precedence cases go back at least to Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). Roe v. Wade is embedded in numerous decisions regarding sexual privacy and choice, and its overturn would require the overturn of those cases, too. Judges at all levels firmly believe in Stare Decisis, because otherwise there would be no stable law and the result would be judicial chaos. Judges will enforce even bad precedents.

There is also the issue that nationally, at least, a large majority of Americans (63%?) support Roe v. Wade.

This whole controversy is totally manufactured for political advantage.

You might also consider that abortion has clear eugenic benefits.

MikeD said...

Abortion rights are to the Left what gun rights are to the Right. Literally if you frame any argument against one and swap in the other issue, it will sound like the opponent's desire to restrict said rights.

Fundamentally, the argument against banning one is the same as the argument against banning the other. If you make gun ownership illegal, people will still get guns, they'll just be criminals. If you make abortions illegal, people will still get abortions, they'll just be criminals.

I have long held that laws do not deter crime. They punish those we catch. Nothing more, nothing less. After centuries of capital punishment, the only person deterred from committing murder seem to be those who get caught and executed (not that I have any problem with that). It might just be human nature, but criminals either think they won't get caught, or that they think they'll get away with it even if they do get caught. Oh, sure, perhaps there is some mild deterrence in laws to those who are already predisposed to being law abiding, but they're not the ones you really worry about.

Texan99 said...

I'd be surprised to see Roe v. Wade simply overturned, though it's possible. More likely there will be a string of cases upholding state laws placing greater or lesser restrictions. Even Roe acknowledged a state interest in protecting fetal life in the third trimester, and contains language implying that viability is a significant issue. Viability is a medical determination that has changed enormously in the decades since Roe was decided.

I deplore a state of law in which we somehow as a society can't understand what was wrong with Gosnell's clinic, and where people come to believe that they have to tolerate that sort of affair in order to preserve the right for people to decide for themselves whether an eight-cell embryo is exactly like a baby. Everyone feels, with good reason, that his opponents are on a slippery slope. The most rabid pro-abortionists are on a slippery slope not only to Gosnell but to eugenic euthanasia. Some of the most rabid anti-abortionists are on a slippery slope to exactly the kind of patriarchal control of female fertility that their worst parodists portray. How else to explain exceptions for rape and incest and fetal illness, and especially the odd talk of whether the rape has to be "real" rape? I'm unable to grasp abortion arguments that don't center on the concern that an innocent human is being killed, whatever good things may come from that killing.

I also agree with Grim that, no matter how much you'd like to save lives, in this situation the surer path to saving more fetal lives is persuasion, not the threat of criminal prosecution--early in pregnancy, at least, when (like it or not) the situation is intimate, private, and not amenable to Big Brother's oversight and control.

But back to the original post: I really don't get Durbin's strategy, even accepting his own premises.

Christopher B said...

I think Grim and Eric come the closest. This is simply the fight the Dems have been planning for, and they are going to fight regardless of the actual opponent. I'd also say, follow the money (and the votes). The Dems know they can't count on the support of white women, especially married ones, from Hillary's experience in 2016. Their support of illegal immigration by some reports does not play well in the African-American community, and they are losing support there. That may not mean votes for the GOP but it might mean less effort to get to the polls to vote for a Democrat. They appear to be losing some support among Hispanics due to improving economic conditions, and something similar seems to be happening among Millennials and Generation Z.

About the only group they can absolutely count on for support now is younger single women, and die-hard old feminists. If they can't reliably deliver protection to Roe v Wade because they have new 'blue dogs' who will tack towards anti-abortion stances then they might find out their base is getting as shaky as sand.

J Melcher said...

"Roe v. Wade will not be overturned by any Court, because the precedence cases go back at least to Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). .. There is also the issue that nationally, at least, a large majority of Americans (63%?) support Roe v. Wade."

Well, yeah. But I'd be thrilled to see a new SCOTUS overturn Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

In Roe, Justice Blackmun basically invented the concept of "trimesters". In early pregnancy, the mother has all rights and the whatever-it-is-at that stage has no rights any state is obliged to recognize (sort of like what Roger B Taney said of Dred Scott and his dark-skinned peers.) By the second trimester the situation was worrisome and in the third, each state was obliged to consider what rights still-to-be-born human beings had, and how a government might best go about protecting those rights. AND, Blackmun set out, there was no particular reason to assume the people of Salt Lake City would make the same sorts of laws and accomodations that the people of San Francisco might make.

It was 1992's Planned Parenthood v Casey that infuriates the right-to-life movement. Third Trimester abortions done for the "mental health" of the mother are a whole 'nother problem than First Trimester procedures. Butchers like Kermit Gosnell and profiteers like Planned Parenthood itself selling fetal organs are abominable. Yet any effort to restrict the THIRD TRIMESTER mother-and-child options, in favor of the child's rights, is violently condemned by radical feminists who claim to consider the 24 week progressed pregnancy an insignificant clump of parasitical cells. This puts the US "progessives" over the edge compared to most European nations and legal systems which begin to protect unborn life at about 20 weeks.

I can live with "Roe". I'd like the SCOTUS to stake out "Casey" on a Texas fire ant hill and let it die, painfully, in the summer sunlight.

Ymarsakar said...

Abortion institution reminds me of that Slave Power institution that broke the back of the United States in 1864.