Fred Thompson, Tim Russert, Federalism, & Abortion.

This week-end, Fred Thompson did Meet the Press and unlike Hillary, he bore up well under Russert’s questioning. However, there was one thing that Thompson said that raised a few eyebrows. Here’s the passage in question,

MR. RUSSERT: This is the 2004 Republican Party platform, and here it is: “We say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution,” “we endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions.” Could you run as a candidate on that platform, promising a human life amendment banning all abortions?


MR. THOMPSON: No. I have always–and that’s been my position the entire time I’ve been in politics. I thought Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. I think this platform originally came out as a response to particularly Roe v. Wade because of that. Before Roe v. Wade, states made those decisions. I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That’s what freedom is all about. And I think the diversity we have among the states, the system of federalism we have where power is divided between the state and the federal government is, is, is–serves us very, very well. I think that’s true of abortion. I think Roe v. Wade hopefully one day will be overturned, and we can go back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days. But…

MR. RUSSERT: Each state would make their own abortion laws.

MR. THOMPSON: Yeah. But, but, but to, to, to have an amendment compelling–going back even further than pre-Roe v. Wade, to have a constitutional amendment to do that, I do not think would be the way to go.

Two things.

#1) Unfortunately, a lot of people who are serious about Federalism tend to oppose very reasonable Constitutional Amendments because they think it will take power away from the states. Although it’s a very common argument, I’ve never thought it held any water. After all, 38 states have to approve for a Constitutional Amendment to become law, so it’s not as if the states aren’t being fairly represented in the process.

#2) Anyone who has ever read RWN knows that I am adamantly pro-life. It’s a very big issue for me and I have to admit that I would not mind seeing a Constitutional Amendment passed that banned abortion except in the case of the mother’s life being endangered.

However, as I’ve written before, that’s simply not going to happen,

…Republicans can’t ban abortion outright because of Roe v. Wade. We could try for a constitutional amendment to get around that, but it would be futile, because they couldn’t get enough support for it. Until Roe v. Wade is overturned (and we’d need to replace at least one more judge after Alito gets on the court to do it), we’re stuck.

That’s why I don’t find Thompson’s position on this issue to be troubling. To the contrary, it’s actually a little reassuring in a roundabout way (Pay close attention to this next paragraph or you’ll get confused).

Let me tell you why: since we can’t get a constitutional ban on abortion passed, we lose nothing if Thompson gets elected and doesn’t support it. That being said, it would have been politically advantageous for him, with social conservatives, to say that he supports the Amendment. The fact that he isn’t supporting it is another strong indication that he means what he says about Federalism. That’s great news for people who are pro-life, because it means he will likely keep his promise to appoint an originalist judge who respects the Federalist principles in the Constitution and any such judge would certainly vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Granted, if Thompson said he supported the Constitutional Amendment, it would also be another indicator he was going to appoint a judge who would overturn Roe v. Wade, but still — any candidate who really believes in Federalism will move the ball forward for those of us who are conservatives — and not just on pro-life issues.

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