Roe, Heller, Politics, and Jack

Slate's blog on legal issues.
June 28 2008 1:26 AM

Roe, Heller, Politics, and Jack

Jack You really should not be required to repeat yourself, and so I apoligize for making you go through it all again. But at last, I get it! It's not the justices who are acting strategically, only the presidents who appoints them. Once they appoint them, justices do as they do. Which is why Reagan appointed Kennedy he knew he passed the reverse litmus test on Roe . The theory is working great. After all, a nonstratgegic Republican president would have appointed someone like Scalia. Or, even dumber, Bork!  Oh, wait ... OK, maybe Reagan's not such a strategic figure. It's not like Bush pere would have appointed someone who thinks Roe should be overruled, like, say, Clarence Thomas. Oh, wait, again ... 

It's a problem for a theory, I think, when neither of the actors in a position to act in accord with it (that is, the presidents or the justices) seem to be ... reliably acting in accord with it. And while the Roe right in some form thus far survives, some think that has more to do with the Senate refusing to do what the prez wanted (see Bork above) than with the prez faking everybody out. 

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But why should we care about this debate? One reason might be that it would warn supporters of the Roe right from taking false comfort in the political-calculation theory's prediction that it will survive a long line of Republican administrations just as it would encourage Roe 's opponents to take heart! 

In short, it's my contention that elections matter more  for constitutional development than, paradoxically, for the super-sophisticated theory of electoral-jurisprudence theory (with its assumption of canny presidents and maybe even justices always seeking out some clever equilibrium) indicates.  

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