No pressing Leahy on his liberal litmus test
At about 11:20am EDT, the MRC's Ken Shepherd passed on that CNN political analyst Bill Schneider noted O'Connor was an important vote in favor of abortion, adding about the next justice: "One question is, will the nominee be willing to say whether he or she would vote to uphold or overturn Roe v. Wade. Is that a fair question? Should there be a litmus test? A lot of conservatives say they want to know that before they'll go along with President Bush's nominee." Schneider returned to his only-conservatives-have-a-litmus-test talk about a half-hour later, as he touted a recent Gallup/USA Today/CNN poll: "What we see here is that by better than two-to-one Americans say they want a justice who would uphold the Roe versus Wade decision. Now, that is likely to be the center of any confirmation battle. Principally because conservatives are pressuring the White House to name a judge who is not just the conservative but one whose position opposed to Roe v. Wade is known. That's the so-called litmus test. They want to know that this is a justice who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. And, as you can see that's a minority position. That is what would make this confirmation hearing enormously controversial." But he wasn't done yet. During Inside Politics in mid-afternoon, Schneider went one better, explicitly suggesting Ted Kennedy opposed litmus tests. Over a graphic reading "A Litmus Test," Schneider explained: "Conservatives want President Bush to nominate a justice who will cast what could be the deciding vote against that right. And they want to know that up front, before the Senate confirmation vote. Their cry is 'no more David Souters.' Souter, nominated by the first President Bush in 1990, did not define his position on abortion. Conservatives were outraged when he turned out to support abortion rights. Many liberals denounce the idea that a nominee should have to pass a litmus test on the abortion issue." Senator Edward Kennedy: "I don't set up a litmus test for any particular nominees. I have voted for judges which have been pro-life." Schneider also played a snippet of Kennedy's infamous "Robert Bork's America" speech from 1987, albeit quite sanitized. While the Gallup poll showed pro-life voters were more intense about the court fight than pro-abortion voters, Schneider insisted "when abortion rights supporters feel their rights are being threatened, they have shown that they can rally, as they did against the nomination of Robert Bork in 1987." Edward Kennedy clip from July 1, 1987: "In Robert Bork's America, there is no room at the inn for blacks, and no place in the Constitution for women."