Sunday, March 05, 2006

Could Roe increase Democratic turnout in '08?

I few weeks back I commented that I thought South Dakota was making a mistake by pushing their abortion ban through too soon. It cannot be said that the court is reliably constructionist enough yet to overturn Roe v. Wade and send decisions on abortion back to the states, where it belongs. There is another reason that this move by South Dakota could backfire on Republicans. It could motivate Democrats to turn out in large numbers in the 2008 elections. From William Saletan at Slate:
Because the South Dakota ban so flagrantly defies Roe, lower courts will probably strike it down quickly, moving it up the chain. If it comes out of an appeals court by the end of 2007, pro-choicers will take it straight to the high court, hoping to make Roe a central issue in the 2008 elections. The court might refuse to hear the case, if it's clear that five justices won't reconsider Roe. Or it might sit on the case till after the elections. But the explosion will happen anyway. By May 2008, Stevens will be 88, two years beyond the age at which any other recent justice died or retired. Everyone will know that he has one foot out the door, and so does Roe.

In short, 2008 will look a lot like 1989, with a surge of pro-choice voting and a frightened retreat by pro-life politicians. But one thing will be different: The House, Senate, and White House will be up for grabs. Instead of picking up a couple of governorships, Democrats and pro-choicers could find themselves in control of the federal government.

If nobody on the Supreme Court retires by 2008, I don't think that the court will overturn Roe. On top of that, Republicans are going to find themselves in a huge dogfight for the Presidency and and Congress. We could easily see a situation where Democrats take the Presidency and the new President gets two or even three nominations on the court, creating a stalemate on the court after all of the progress of the last few years. I'm very worried about the long range ripple effect that South Dakota's abortion ban could have. It was not something that needed to be done quickly, and no state should have attempted to do for another couple of years.

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