News articles act as if this survey reveals only "her personal views on abortion" and says nothing about "whether she believed that the Constitution protected a right to abortion." But one of the questions was: "If Congress passes a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit abortion except when it was necessary to prohibit the death of the mother, would you actively support its ratification by the Texas Legislature?" She answered yes.
That shows more than a personal view about abortion. She supported ending the right to abortion. True, it doesn't say whether she would say there is no right to abortion in the Constitution as it exists today without that amendment, but it does show that she did not consider abortion to be a matter properly left to the individual. That is, she did not have the (very common) position opposing abortion in the sense that she herself would not have an abortion but that she would respect the autonomy of other women as they make their own moral choices. This willingness to take away the independent choice of the individual is something more than personal. It is an attitude toward individual rights that affects how a judge would approach the question whether there is a constitutional right to abortion.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and leading abortion rights advocate on the Judiciary Committee, called Ms. Miers's responses to the survey troubling.Why such a lukewarm respose from the Democrats? If the files on John Roberts had contained something like this they would have boiled over.
"The concern is whether she is able to look at issues relating to the health of the mother, which is coming before the court, relating to Roe, in an open and unbiased manner," Ms. Feinstein said, referring to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established a constitutional right to an abortion.
It's no mystery. The Democrats want Miers confirmed because they fear a more powerful nominee. Roberts was opposed because of his strength, because he clearly had what it takes to be a Supreme Court justice. The Democrats tolerate Miers because she seems to lack the qualities that will make her a solid and influential justice, and they are hoping she will fall under the sway of the liberal justices who will court her vote. It's the best they can hope for from Bush. In this sense, they are protecting the right to abortion.
President Bush showed his disrespect for the independence of the judicial branch when he chose Miers, and the Democrats are doing the same thing now as they give her a pass.