White House Rep Can’t Defend Obama’s Abortion Litmus Test for Supreme Court
by Steven Ertelt
April 22, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The top spokesman for President Barack Obama was stymied by the press Wednesday afternoon after Obama said in a morning meeting that he would have no abortion litmus test for the Supreme Court and then proceeded to outline how any nominee must support unlimited abortions.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was unable to defend Obama against questions from media outlets asking how Obama spoke out of both sides of his mouth.
"The President just said when asked about the issue of abortion that he wants somebody whos interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights, and that includes womens rights. Isn’t it artifice to say that this is not a litmus test?" one reporter asked Gibbs.
"No," he replied.
Asked in a followup if Obama would then be open to appointing a pro-life nominee, Gibbs faltered.
"I think we’re playing the Washington game again. If I say this, then I don’t," he started to say, before a reported added, "We’re in Washington." Gibbs confessed, "I know, I know."
After the reporter said it was a "fair question" to ask, Gibbs said he would give a "fair response."
" I think the fair response is that the President, as you heard him enumerate, is going to look for somebody that shares the notion of legal principles that are enshrined in case law and in the Constitution. I think this is — again, the President has some familiarity with the Constitution and constitutional law and I think he can, while not having an explicit litmus test, can talk to somebody about a full range of their beliefs," Gibbs said.
"But if he rules out somebody who doesn’t share that belief, isn’t that de facto a litmus test?" the reporter responded.
Gibbs avoided the question, "Again, I’m not going to get into the if this, does it mean that; if that, does it mean this — I would go with what the President said in terms of understanding the legal principles of our Constitution."
A minute later, another reporter attempted to bring the conversation back to abortion.
"If it turned out that the person he appoints to the court someday provided the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, would Barack Obama be upset about that?" the reporter asked.
After the press room burst out with laughter, Gibbs called the question "a legitimate 20-plus-year hypothetical."
The reporter said that may not be the case — "Well, it could be a two-year hypothetical. Or a one-year." — but Gibbs wouldn’t budge.
"And I will — not wanting to get into hypotheticals, not — just not getting into 730-day hypotheticals. I will — again, I would point you to what the President said in what hes looking for in a nominee," Gibbs said, retreating to Obama’s own remarks.
What Obama said has led pro-life advocates to believe he will definitely appoint a pro-abortion nominee to the Supreme Court to replace retiring pro-abortion Justice John Paul Stevens, who is part of the five-member pro-abortion majority.
I will say the same thing that every president has said since this issue came up, which is I don’t have litmus tests around any of these issues, but I will say that I want somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights and that includes womens rights and that is going to be something that is very important to me," Obama said, essentially putting a litmus test into place.
Obama added that he believes the Constitution guarantees the right to privacy and "bodily integrity," though he made no mention of the bodily rights of unborn children.
"Part of what our core constitutional values promote is the notion that individuals are protected in their privacy and their bodily integrity, and women are not exempt from that," he said.
According to White House officials, Obama is looking at making his nomination by May 26, although likely earlier in the month. He confirmed he wants to move the process along quickly.
Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Judges Diane Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Merrick Garland of the United States Court of Appeals for the District Circuit are considered leading candidates.
Both Kagan and Wood have extensive pro-abortion records and would prompt vigorous opposition from pro-life groups.
Judges Sidney Thomas of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Ann Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; pro-abortion Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears of the Georgia Supreme Court are other potential nominees.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who backs abortion and Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School, and Justice Carlos Moreno of the California Supreme Court are other potential replacements for Stevens.
Top pro-abortion groups are urging Obama to select the most radical pro-abortion justice possible.
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