Should Giuliani manage to win the nomination - still a dubious prospect given his social liberalism - and should he face Hillary Clinton in the general election, social conservatives would be faced with a choice. Giuliani has promised to name "strict constructionist" judges to the Supreme Court, which is where this issue will ultimately be decided. Would social conservatives be satisfied with such a pledge; or would they stay home and not vote, allowing Clinton to win?
One can be sure any judges Clinton names would have to pass an abortion "litmus test." No Supreme Court justice nominated by a modern Democratic president has voted pro-life, but several justices named by Republicans have voted pro-choice. They and the presidents who nominated them are: Warren Burger and Harry Blackmun (Nixon); John Paul Stevens (Ford); Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy (Reagan); and David Souter (Bush 41).
It is no guarantee that electing a Republican president will produce pro-life justices, but it is a virtual certainty that no judge nominated by a Democratic president will disappoint the pro-choice lobby.
Here is the problem for social conservatives who view abortion as the ultimate issue. If they vote for Giuliani, can they ever "go back," or will their political virginity be forever compromised? If they vote for Giuliani and he makes good on his promise to name only strict constructionists, will they be closer to achieving their objective of stopping most abortions? Should they stay home and a Democrat wins and names two or three liberal justices, their goal of halting, or at least sharply reducing the number of abortions, may be pushed back for at least a generation.
Giuliani could offer a plan to substantially reduce the number of abortions, which might cut him some slack with pro-life voters. But voters also have a choice among other GOP candidates who are pro-life. If they're thinking about supporting Giuliani, they can wait until Giuliani tells them more.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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