What is "The Mainstream"?

According to the Washington Post, the Supreme Court has decided to review a 2003 law forbidding partial-birth abortions. The law has been struck down by lower courts, and a similar law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2000 in a 5-4 decision, with Justice O’Connor siding with the majority. Of course, now Justice O’Connor has morphed into Justice Alito (though not literally), which may indicate that the law has some chance at resurrection.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood of America, gave her opinion of this news: “Today’s actions by the court are a shining example of why elections matter. When judges far outside the mainstream are nominated and confirmed to public office by anti-choice politicians, women’s health and safety are put in danger.”

What exactly puts Justice Alito “far outside the mainstream”? Although we probably won’t know until the case is argued and decided, let’s assume for the sake of argument that Justice Alito believes that the Constitution provides no basis for asserting a right to a partial-birth abortion, and that such an act may be outlawed by the government because it is immoral. If that is true, does that make him an extremist?

On what basis does Planned Parenthood argue that favoring a right to partial-birth abortion is the mainstream view of Americans? Where in our national policy or in public opinion polls has that ever been indicated? In fact, the only reason partial-birth abortion exists in this country is because a handful of elitist lawyers in black robes decided for all of us that, even though the Constitution mentions nothing about it, it must be an inalienable human right. Abortion has always advanced through the fiat determination of an oligarchy in this country. “The mainstream” has never had the opportunity to determine national policy.

If Ms. Richards believes that this is an issue that should be left to the people, then by all means, give it to the people! Let the voters decide state-by-state the policies that they want, either regulating or outlawing the practice of abortion. I doubt that she would favor such a thing, because in many states abortion would be outlawed completely, and in most others it would be far more restricted than what it is now because of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

And so, let’s lose the silly rhetoric about Justice Alito being “far outside the mainstream” simply because he doesn’t agree with you, Ms. Richards. How long will you persist in the false belief that your opinion, no matter how few actually share it, constitutes “the mainstream” of American thought?

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2 Responses to “What is "The Mainstream"?”

  1. Cogito Says:

    What I don’t understand about the argument is this…the Supreme Court Justices are a) Nominated by the Executive branch who is voted on by ALL the people and b) Confirmed by elected officials voted on by…ALL the people. So let me get this straight, elected officials, chosen by the people, choose a pair of judges that reflect their own beliefs (which, of course, put these officials in office)…and these judges are out of the “main stream”? I can’t follow the logic.

  2. Aaron Says:

    Exactly. Note the irony in Ms. Richards comment:

    “Today’s actions by the court are a shining example of why elections matter. When judges far outside the mainstream are nominated and confirmed to public office by anti-choice politicians, women’s health and safety are put in danger.”

    She draws specific attention to the fact that a NATIONAL ELECTION has brought about the nomination and confirmation of Justice Alito. President Bush has long promised to nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court, and I considered that one of the most important reasons to vote for him, as did millions of other voters who elected him.

    As you correctly point out, the confirmation process is also there to ensure that justices “far outside the mainstream” don’t get in. If Alito really were “far outside the mainstream,” then Senators who voted to confirm him would be under fire from their constituents. However, in most cases the opposite is true. For most Republicans and at least a sizeable handful of Democrats, voting AGAINST Alito would have ticked off their constituents! Ergo, they voted for him, thereby thwarting the filibuster proposed by those who really ARE outside the mainstream (Kennedy, Kerry, Clinton).

    The reason you can’t follow the logic is because you, unlike Ms. Richards, actually believe that conservatives are real people who have a voice in the affairs of this nation. She thinks people like us (who live in red states, who go to church, who like fishing, who have many friends with animal heads mounted on their walls, etc.) are completely out to lunch and on the fringe of society. This is the mentality of elitist liberalism. Elitist liberals are clueless about what happens in the real world. They never venture beyond their metropolitan centers on the coast to get in touch with Wal-Mart America, and as a result, they mistakenly believe that they own public discourse in this country and are entitled to power.

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