Ronald Reagan’s Top Supreme Court Choice Would Have Opposed Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 12, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Ronald Reagan’s Top Supreme Court Choice Would Have Opposed Abortion

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 12,

Washington, DC ( — President Ronald Reagan is hailed by most of the pro-life community as a pro-life champion during his tenure in the White House. A few detractors have derided the former president because his Supreme Court selections didn’t represent those pro-life views, but a new interview reveals Reagan’s top choice for the high court was pro-life.

Reagan is remembered for selecting Sandra Day O’Connor, who ultimately repeatedly voted to not only uphold legalized abortion but partial-birth abortions as well.

However, historian Paul Kengor interviewed with pro-life advocate Warren Throckmorton about his new book on Judge William P. “Bill” Clark.

Kengor says Reagan wanted Clark, who is pro-life, to be his first nominee to the nation’s high court when Justice Potter Stewart announced his retirement.

At that time, Bill Clark was serving as Reagan’s deputy secretary of state after serving in the California Supreme Court as a judge.

"So, once Stewart resigned, Reagan called Clark into the Oval Office and asked him if he wanted to be considered for the court vacancy. Clark said no," Kengor told Throckmorton. "He wanted to serve Reagan faithfully for a few crucial years and then return to California to get back to his family and life on his ranch."

Kengor said Reagan scratched Clark’s name off a notecard in his pocket, that, in his estimation, had Clark’s name at the top of his list of possible nominees.

"That was a great day for those who have no respect for the sanctity and dignity of unborn human life. They exhaled a huge sigh of relief," he said in the interview.

Had Clark been interested in the position, Kengor said he could have changed history on abortion. Instead, O’Connor got the job.

Asked if Judge Clark would have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, Kengor told Throckmorton, "Absolutely."

"Bill Clark would have been the swing vote that overturned Roe v. Wade, particularly through the 1992 case, Casey v. Planned Parenthood. He would not have voted the awful way that Sandra Day O’Connor voted," Kengor explained.

The author also indicated that Judge Clark could have persuaded Justice Anthony Kennedy (Reagan selected him because Kennedy was known to be pro-life) to vote to overturn Roe as well. Instead, Kennedy joined O’Connor and the abortion advocates on the high court.

"Kennedy, however, is a man easily influenced by others, including the anti-life culture in Washington and on the high court. He became a reliable anti-life vote for those who champion abortion rights," Kengor said.

"Had Clark served on the high court, the vote on Casey could have flipped from 5-4 against Casey to 5-4 in favor, and perhaps even 6-3 in favor if Clark influenced Kennedy," Kengor added.

Throckmorton asked Kengor whether Judge Clark ever realized the historic role he could have played in overturning the landmark abortion case.

Kengor said he wasn’t sure and pointed out that Clark laid the foundation to win the Cold War.

"He opted to defeat the evil of Soviet communism rather than the evil of American abortion," Kengor said. "He left the Culture War to others. That’s now our task."

Related web sites:
Book on Judge Clark –