President Bush’s Comment on Judges in Debate May Point to Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 13, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush’s Comment on Judges in Debate May Point to Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 13, 2004

Washington, DC ( — During the second presidential debate in St. Louis, President Bush discussed the kind of people he would look for in a potential Supreme Court justice. Some are speculating that one comment Bush made points to his desire to place pro-life advocates on the nation’s high court.

Bush said he would want someone who wouldn’t have agreed with the 1857 Dred Scott decision that defended the notion of slaves as personal property.

"Another example would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges years ago said that the Constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights," the president said. "That’s personal opinion; that’s not what the Constitution says."

Why discuss a decision that was overturned just a decade later when the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution overturned the ruling in 1868?

Bush could have discussed the infamous Supreme Court decision because of it’s related to St. Louis, location of the debate. The Scott case was originally argued in a courthouse down the street.

He also could have discussed the case because Missouri is a key battleground state and there is large African-American voting community in St. Louis.

However, some political pundits say Bush was sending an overt signal to pro-life advocates that he will appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court. They note the pro-life movement frequently makes comparisons between Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion.

Contacted about the quote by Knight-Ridder, campaign spokesman Brian Jones said the president’s statement speaks for itself.

"It’s the president talking about making sure that personal opinion doesn’t enter into the decision-making process of judges," Jones said.

National Right to Life PAC director Carol Tobias, also asked by Knight Ridder news service, said she didn’t know if the president was intending to convey a secret message in his remarks.

"I’m sure there are people … who made that connection," she said.

Tobias did agree that a comparison between the two court cases could be made.

"In 1973, the Supreme Court said the same thing. Instead of slaves, they said unborn children," she said.

One abortion advocate told Knight Ridder that she had never heard of the connection between the two infamous cases until after Friday’s debate.

"At the time, I thought that he was misspeaking yet again," Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, said. "It sounds very much like Karl Rove to me," she said of the idea that Bush was sending a covert message.

Related web sites:
WeVoteProLife Voting Guide –