13 July 2009

Aborting Sotomayor?

The news reports that a small group of anti-abortion protesters, including the original "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade fame, since converted to the opposite side, briefly disrupted Judge Sotomayor's confirmation hearing today. This outburst coincides with a fresh attempt to whip up the anti-abortion community against the nominee. The last I saw, abortion was considered a non-issue this time because Sotomayor had made rulings in favor of Bushite laws that constrained abortion rights. But there is a huge hostility to her in some quarters of the Republican/conservative community, and I suspect that those elements are trying to stir up the rest.

A fax arrived in our office this afternoon bearing the letterhead of "TheCall to Action." This is, in the writer's own description, "a leading pro-life, pro-family" voice. That voice today was boldfaced in its headline: "EVANGELICAL LEADER: 'WAKE UP CONSERVATIVES.'" That leader is TheCall to Action's own Lou Engle, who warns that "very little attention has been paid to [Sotomayor's] views on important social issues that Christians are concerned about, especially abortion."

I'd like to think that was because the concerns of Christians as such are irrelevant to the nomination or confirmation of a Supreme Court justice. But Engle is right to note that the nominee has been characterizes as a "moderate" on reproductive rights. He just happens to think differently. Sotomayor, he notes, has been a member of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and that entity "has issued six briefs in support of abortion rights and fought efforts on numerous occasions to overturn the landmark Roe v.Wade case." Voila: guilt by association. Never mind the more relevant precedents in the judge's judicial record, the basis for her "moderate" reputation. The fact that she woke up at least one morning in her life not committed absolutely to overturning Roe makes her suspect in Engle's eyes.

There follows the usual reactionary invocation of Martin Luther King's sentence about "content of character," urging certain readers to overlook the historical event of Sotomayor's nomination in favor of scrutiny of the "character" of her position on reproductive rights.

The content of her character must be judged by the Declaration of Independence which declares 'We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' We contend that a child in the womb is life and is protected by our founding documents and must be upheld by justices of the Supreme Court.

So says Lou Engle, even though he quotes only one "founding document," and one that lacks the force of law. So that we may judge the content of his character, here's his own more elaborate description of TheCall to Action: "TheCall is a divinely initiated, multi-racial, multi-generational, and cross-denominational gathering to corporate prayer and fasting. TheCall is committed to mobilizing people from all across America to gather together to petition God for His undeserved mercy for our nation in 12-hour solemn assemblies." Well, good luck with that, but as I don't notice much progress on that front, it might not be such a great idea to take one's eyes off the prize in order to cast a dubious gaze on Judge Sotomayor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everytime I see something like this in the news it makes me want to go burn a church full of Christians. I am sick, nearly to the point of violence, of Christians trying to legislate their superstition into law.