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FIRST-PERSON: A great battle looms


FORT WORTH (BP)–If you thought the recent fight over judicial nomination filibusters was brutal, if you thought the Supreme Court nomination processes for Clarence Thomas or Robert Bork were dirty, to quote a 1970s song lyric, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

This upcoming nomination process to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court will be a high-tech, no-holds barred, bare-knuckled fistfight where the liberals will unite against Bush’s nominee with fervor and wild-eyed fanaticism we haven’t seen in a long, long time.

This is going to be a hill on which liberals will be willing to die.

You see, O’Connor has been the linchpin, crucial, swing vote in key cases decided during her 24-year tenure. In case after case, especially where the abortion issue was at stake, Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Stevens and Souter could be counted on to align behind a liberal interpretation of the law; Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, and mostly Kennedy could be counted on to align behind a conservative interpretation. More often than not, O’Connor cast the deciding vote.

This vacancy is more significant than one for the chief justice spot. Most liberals assume that Chief Justice Rehnquist casts conservative votes. O’Connor’s vote can hardly ever be taken for granted. Liberals and conservatives alike work hard to sway O’Connor to their position.

Liberals love O’Connor for the notorious swing vote she cast in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v Casey. In that case, the Supreme Court had a chance to overturn, or at least severely restrict, the 1973 Roe v Wade abortion decision. Rehnquist led a four-judge coalition that stood ready to finally acknowledge that there is no right to abort found in the U.S. Constitution.

O’Connor held the key vote in that decision. She ended up balking at the idea of limiting a woman’s so-called right to choose and led a liberal coalition that reaffirmed the core rule of Roe v Wade.

This nomination process is going to be an all-out war for any candidate that has even the most tenuous conservative leanings. Liberals will be willing to sacrifice everything to prevent a conservative voice from replacing O’Connor.

Abortion rights will be the touchstone issue in whatever candidate President Bush nominates. Abortion activists understand that the one person on the Supreme Court who made a difference in favor of their position was O’Connor. In this sense, O’Connor is perceived by abortion activists as being even more powerful and crucial than Rehnquist.

So, fellow conservatives, you had better brace yourselves for the battle of your lives. This one is going to be huge. Pray, pray and pray again for the president. Pray that he nominates someone with courage to stand up for truth.

Pray that the U.S. senator from the nominee’s home state has the stomach to see this fight through to the end. Traditionally, the nominee’s senior home state senator sponsors the nominee through the nomination process. For example, if Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is nominated to replace O’Connor, Texas Senator Kaye Bailey Hutchinson would be expected to stand by his side as he faces questioning from the Judiciary Committee.

Pray for whomever the president nominates and his or her family. That person is going to be dragged through mud so deep it will make the Clarence Thomas nomination process look like child’s play. Lies, distortions, half-truths and all manner of dirty politics will rear their ugly heads.

The stakes are sky-high for conservatives and liberals on this one. It’s clear that a reliably conservative voice in O’Connor’s seat would make a huge difference on all sorts of moral issues, not the least of which is overturning Roe v Wade. Conservatives cannot back down now because the political assault from liberals is going to be something few have ever seen before.
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Brent Thompson studied and practiced law on the West Coast before getting his master of divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the associate director for public relations at Southwestern Seminary.

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  • Brent Thompson