Democratic Party Chair Bashes John McCain on Judges and Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 8, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Democratic Party Chair Bashes John McCain on Judges and Abortion

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 8
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Responding to the speech eventual Republican presidential nominee John McCain gave earlier this week saying he wanted judges who will not make law, Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean bashed him. Dean said McCain’s judges would overturn Roe and limit abortions.

In his speech, McCain didn’t mention abortion specifically but said his kind of judges would be the ones most likely to support an effort to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that resulted in unlimited abortions.

McCain told students at the North Carolina college that he’s upset by the lack of judicial restraint on the part of federal judges. Though he covered other cases where courts have overstepped his bounds, his words were applicable to Roe.

"With a presumption that would have amazed the framers of our Constitution, and legal reasoning that would have mystified them, federal judges today issue rulings and opinions on policy questions that should be decided democratically," he said.

Responding to the speech, Dean, who is pro-abortion and once did a medical internship at a Planned Parenthood abortion center, said McCain "showed his true colors."

"While he makes a show of trying to recast himself as a ‘moderate’ for the general election, in reality John McCain is promising four more years of right wing judges bent on pushing a radical agenda from the bench," Dean said.

"No matter how far outside the mainstream they have been, John McCain has been a loyal rubberstamp for their radical right wing agenda," he added.

Dean said examples of judges McCain have supported shows the GOP presidential candidate wants judges who will limit abortions and someday overturn Roe v. Wade, which allowed unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy.

"No matter how far they have gone to restrict our fundamental rights or their clear records of gutting the reforms John McCain claims to care about, he has put loyalty to his party and a radical agenda ahead of the American people," he said.

Dean said McCain voted for and has praised new Supreme Court judges John Roberts and Samuel Alito and pointed out that both sided with the high court majority in upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions.

He indicated Roberts, in 1990 while serving as the Deputy Solicitor General, coauthored a brief in the case of Rust v. Sullivan saying, "[w]e continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled.

"[T]he Court’s conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion . . . find[s] no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution," Roberts wrote at the time.

Dean says Alito wrote an opinion in 1991 that would have upheld the spousal notification requirement before a mother can have an abortion.

He also said McCain was the key dealmaker in votes for Judges Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor, whom pro-life groups supported because of favorable rulings or votes.

The Democratic leader also bashed McCain for voting for Judge Robert Bork, the failed pro-life Supreme Court nominee President Reagan appointed in the 1980s. Abortion advocates joined together to defeat his nomination.

Dean also pointed to a statement from pro-life leader Gary Bauer, who told the New York Times in 2005 that "McCain, in private, assured me he would appoint pro-life judges."