by Steven Ertelt
July 6, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — More than a dozen names have been floated by news agencies, political observers, interest groups, and White House staff as the most likely replacement for outgoing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
They are all pro-life or have issued rulings upholding pro-life legislation. One key person stands out as an exception and his name dominates the early debate about a potential Supreme Court nominee — Alberto Gonzales.
Pro-life organizations have been very vocal in the days since O’Connor’s retirement announcement about their concern with Gonzales’ abortion views.
The Attorney General is coming under fire because, as a Texas Supreme Court justice, he ruled in favor of teenagers getting abortions in a handful of cases. The rulings allowed the teens to use the judicial bypass provision in Texas’ parental notification law, normally meant for abusive home situations.
As a result, pro-life groups are worried that Gonzales, if picked for the high court, will be another Republican appointee, like O’Connor, David Souter and others, who will rule in favor of legalized abortion.
In interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday, President Bush has called on political groups to back off on their criticism of Gonzales. He called his top lawyer a personal friend and loyal supporter.
According to a New York Times report, both White House staff and top Senate Republican aides are urging pro-life advocates to hold off on attacking Gonzales, who they say may not even be appointed to the post.
Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who now heads American Values and a pro-life political action committee, says the Bush administration "shouldn’t be reluctant to talk about the values we hope the nominee will embrace."
"If all my side does is talk about process — ‘we want a fair hearing, etc.’ — while Ted Kennedy is talking about ‘we are not going to let somebody on the court who is going to take away the rights of individuals,’ as silly as I think that is, it will affect the way people think about the battle," Bauer told the Times.
Some groups are not planning to give up on talking about the potential concerns of Gonzales sitting on the high court.
Emails from groups like Life Issues Institute have been circulating around the pro-life ranks and spell out questions posed to Gonzales in a leadership forum in which he said he would regard Roe v. Wade as binding legal precedent.
Paul Weyrich, of the Free Congress Foundation, has been telling White House officials that the president should not pick Gonzales, despite Bush’s label of him as a good friend.
"I respect and admire that about the president," he told USA Today. "But it shouldn’t interfere with his judgment. … I could not explain to my supporters why I would be totally behind a nominee who’s taken the kind of positions (Gonzales) has."
Some pro-life advocates don’t think the president will name Gonzales to the Supreme Court.
"The president is a man of his word and he has said he is not going to stand for judges who legislate from the bench," Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum said.
Weyrich also believes Bush won’t name Gonzales because liberals are concerned about his involvement in Guantanamo Bay and because Gonzales has been involved in the Bush administration and would likely have to recuse himself from some cases.
Other groups are focusing less on Gonzales and more on making sure pro-life advocates are ready to support Bush’s nominee, if indeed the nominee is pro-life.
Tom Minnery, of Focus on the Family, told the Times that pro-abortion groups are the ones ratcheting up the level of intensity and that pro-life groups like his will focus most of their efforts, until a nominee has been named, on educating grassroots pro-life advocates and getting them ready to support the nominee.
The goal is "to get our constituents to understand how important this battle is," he said.