by Steven Ertelt
November 6, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Speculation that a pro-abortion member of the Supreme Court may be planning to step down soon is providing a last-minute shake up in a hotly contested Congressional election that is expected to go down to the wire. The head of a judicial watchdog group says political observers believe Justice John Paul Stevens may retire.
Stevens, an 86 year-old judge appointed in 1975, has been battling health problems and several reports have appeared in recent days that his health has taken a turn for the worse.
Stevens is a member of the five justice bloc of judges on the high court who back legalized abortion and his retirement could potentially pave the way for the confirmation of a justice who could be the deciding vote in overturning Roe v. Wade.
However, should Democrats capture control of the Senate tomorrow, President Bush would likely have a tough time securing the nomination of a justice would strictly interpret the Constitution and not read a so-called right to abortion into it.
Sean Rushton, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, writes about the Stevens retirement possibility in a national editorial yesterday.
"It points out what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the 20-year movement to recast the court with a constitutionalist majority," Rushton said.
Rushton urged voters to consider the potential for a Stevens retirement when they vote and to keep control of Congress in pro-life hands.
"It would be a cruel twist indeed for conservatives to ‘teach Republicans a lesson’ Tuesday, only to be taught a lesson themselves within months when new Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) leads a Democratic majority against the most important Supreme Court nominee in
decades," he said.
Pro-life groups are warning voters that they need to keep the possibility in mind.
"President Bush was able to appoint two new constitutionalist Justices since 2004 because pro-lifers were the majority in Congress," Susan B. Anthony List director Marjorie Dannenfelser wrote pro-life advocates Monday.
"Just as in 2004, the Supreme Court is at stake again. The control of the Senate up for grabs again," she wrote. "Give President Bush a Senate that will confirm a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court."
Meanwhile, Rushton reminded votes of the fate of pro-life Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, who lost a heated nomination battle after the Senate changed from Republican to Democratic hands in 1986.
"The rumor should focus the mind not only on whether the Senate will remain majority-Republican, but by how much," Rushton wrote.
He pointed out how large Democratic gains on Tuesday could threaten the bipartisan group of moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats who made sure recent nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito did not face filibusters.
Whether Stevens is headed for a retirement soon or not, Rushton said pro-life voters should keep it in mind because it’s always a possibility and there are two years before voters can undo the loses that might occur Tuesday.
"Even if the rumor turns out to be unfounded, it is worth repeating because it crystallizes the reality that there will soon be another high court vacancy," he writes. "Senators elected next Tuesday to six year terms will, assuredly, vote on the confirmation of at least one new Supreme Court justice before their term is out."
The message appears to be getting to voters however, as Rushton says President Bush has been mentioning the topic of judges in his campaign stops across the nation and it has been getting a strong response from audiences.