Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On judges and abortion, president is far outside the mainstream

In a recent piece on National Review Online (prior to the president's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court), David Freddoso discusses a revealing new poll showing that President Obama's views on abortion and judicial philosophy go sharply against the grain of American public opinion. Freddoso writes:

Pollster Kellyanne Conway recently conducted a survey comissioned by Americans United for Life to measure public opinion about Obama’s impending choice of a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. What is most interesting about her poll is that respondents reject precisely the kind of nominee that President Obama is almost certain to pick. Far from preferring “empathy,” 92 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Independents, and 84 percent of Democrats said they prefer a nominee who “will interpret the law as it is written and not take into account his or her personal viewpoints and experiences.”
On the issue of abortion:

Conway’s poll suggests that a vast majority of Americans want President Obama to nominate someone who disagrees with nearly everything he believes about abortion. Of those surveyed, 82 percent said they oppose a nominee who “supports late-term abortions, which are abortions in the seventh, eighth or ninth months of pregnancy and are also known as ‘Partial-Birth Abortions.’” When the Supreme Court upheld a congressional ban on partial-birth abortion in 2007, then-candidate Obama said that even such a modest restriction on abortion is completely unacceptable ...

In the new poll, 69 percent said they do not want a new justice who opposes “making it illegal for someone to take a girl younger than the age of 18 across state lines to obtain abortions without her parents’ knowledge.” Then-senator Obama voted against precisely such a ban in 2006, known as the Child Custody Protection Act. The bill received 65 Senate votes, including those of many pro-choice Democrats.

Seventy-one percent said they oppose a justice who “favors using tax dollars to pay for abortions here in the United States,” and an even higher percentage said they oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortions abroad. President Obama’s record demonstrates that he favors both. As a state senator in Illinois, he voted twice (in 1998 and 2000) to preserve Medicaid funding for abortion. He supports the Freedom of Choice Act, which would strike state prohibitions on abortion funding. And as president, he has effectively allowed the funding of abortion abroad by rescinding the Mexico City policy.
More about Obama's record and positions here. Freddoso continues:

Conway’s survey asked Americans whether they agreed that “abortions should be allowed at any time during a woman’s pregnancy, and for any reason” — which is, essentially, Obama’s position. Only 7 percent of respondents supported it.
Only 7 percent of the poll respondents agreed with the president on abortion. It's clear that Barack Obama did not win the '08 election because of his views on abortion and judicial nominees, but in spite of those views, which have been and increasingly are unpopular with the majority of Americans.