Giuliani Blog Tracking the likely Presidential candidacy of Rudy Giuliani

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

How Rudy Changed His Position on Abortion... in 1989

Many keyboards have been worn out speculating on whether and to what extent Rudy will modify his position on abortion in the coming campaign. For guidance on this question, we must turn to a little known incident from Rudy's 1989 campaign for mayor that I'm amazed hasn't gotten more attention.

On page 28 of Fred Siegel's The Prince of the City: Giuliani and the Genius of American Life, Siegel recounts how Giuliani formed some of the positions he took in his first campaign, and the influence of a liberal lawyer named Jennifer Raab who worked for him at the time:

Giuliani, who had once thought of going into the priesthood, was deeply immersed in the Catholic tradition and enjoyed debating ideas. He was driven by both personal ambition and a strong moral compass, but his political affiliations he held far more lightly. He began, like most New York Italian Catholics, as a Democrat, but like many ethnics he moved away to become an independent in 1977 and eventually a Republican at the start of the Reagan years. Still, noted his 1989 issues director Jennifer Raab, "he was largely undefined on the local political issues." "In New York," she said, "there are a thousand interest groups with passionately held positions on issues where Giuliani had no opinion" and "almost no staff" to give him one.

He wrestled with his conscience on abortion, waffled -- and then under the influence of liberal Republicans like State Senator Roy Goodman, the pro-abortion Liberal Party and Raab, who made it clear that opposition to abortion would cost him dearly in votes from Jewish women, Giuliani went pro-choice.
For this much mused about debate about Rudy and abortion, we have a woman named Jennifer Raab to thank.

At first blush, this doesn't appear to be all that comforting a sequence of events for social conservatives. But step back, and the clear pattern is one of Rudy doing what needed to be done to get elected in New York City, where the Republican Party is about as popular as tuberculosis.

Anti-Rudyites have mused that Rudy is not just pro-choice, but pro-abortion. Not true. This passage can give us at least some comfort that Rudy is no pro-choice zealot and will eagerly go to the mat for his constituents, in this case Republican primary voters.

Having flipped once, it might seem to calculating of him to flip again. But Rudy is a guy with his hears to the ground, and as the lone candidate with experience in the judicial system, is probably well aware of the safety net social conservatives are offering him on strict constructionist judges.

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At 1:07 AM, Blogger Nancy French said...

It's not neccessarily his position of the moment that is troublesome... (well, it IS troublesome) but the thing that's scary is what kind of judges he'd appoint.

I think prolifers welcome all newcomers and converts to the cause. But, we have to believe that it's for real...

Great post.

At 2:53 PM, Blogger debra said...

let's be frank... and this is something I have thought about for a while now.

The implications of the last paragraph are that by the 2008 election the Supreme Court may lose another liberal Justice and do Rudy the enormous favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. Rudy can then feel free to be pro or antichoice with NO CONSESQUENCES.
I suspect that Republican primary voters are still going to insist he be anti choice verbally out loud---and then Rudy will have to wink, wink at all the soccer moms that ....No he doesn't really mean it and wink wink back to the right wing that...yes he really does.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Argo Journal said...


If you're scared about what kind of judges Giuliani would appoint or nominate to the Supreme Court, don't be.

May I suggest you read the transcript below of an interview Rudy did with Rush Limbaugh last year discussing the nomination of Chief Justice Roberts and then tell us what you're still concerned about.

RUSH: I am happy to welcome to the program, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Hi, Rudy. I'm glad you made some time for us today.

GIULIANI: Hi, Rush. How are you?

RUSH: You worked with John Roberts.


RUSH: DOJ, William French Smith era. What can you tell us about him?

GIULIANI: I did. I worked with him, I guess at the beginning of his career, right after he finished clerking with Justice Rehnquist and came to work for Attorney General Smith and then I worked with him when he was in the Reagan White House and I was U.S. attorney and associate attorney general. I mean, this is a terrific choice. He's superbly qualified. He has every qualification any of the successful justices of the Supreme Court have ever had. I mean, he has a great law school record, law clerk on the second circuit, law clerk on the Supreme Court, argued before the Supreme Court numerous times. Everyone who has been with him and watched him do that, says that he is just a fabulous lawyer. And he's a wonderful human being. So the only opposition to him could possibly be, not his qualifications. He's as qualified as the best Supreme Court justices. He is sort of at the top level of qualification. The only objection could be that somebody didn't like whatever they think is his philosophy, and that really should be the president's choice. The president is entitled to --

RUSH: So what is there in his philosophy, if anything?

GIULIANI: I can't imagine. Someone might say, they think because President Bush appointed him he is going to be too conservative -- but that is just an absurd way of approaching Supreme Court nomination.

RUSH: One of the things I read about him today was that he is very active. I don't mean this in a phony sense. He is very active in the Washington social circuit. He has made a lot of friends on both sides of the aisles. He doesn't have any enemies that anybody knows of.

GIULIANI: Personally, he is a very nice guy. He's a very easy going nice guy. So that would make sense that he would have a lot of friends. But also, if you read his opinions, he is a very strong lawyer. He is a very strict constructionist of the Constitution. He believes in that. I would say that probably describes his judicial philosophy probably better than anything else. That is probably the reason why the president appointed him. He's going to be very, very careful and very, very clear about trying to stick as best you can to the intent of the Constitution.

RUSH: We all get caught up in the buzz of potential nominees in the day before, like yesterday, and the weeks leading up. Did the choice, when you heard about it yesterday, surprise you?

GIULIANI: No, not at all. I mean, he's been one of the 6-10 who have been, you know, in the list of who the president might select. I think he's an excellent choice because, in many ways, it makes confirmation easier. Not only is he well liked, the way Scalia was way back when President Reagan appointed him, but he is someone who hasn't been a judge for a very, very long period of time. So, you're not going to get an awful lot of opinions that he has already come to that people can attack.

RUSH: Well, now, Senator Leahy says he's going to spend the month of August under his apple tree on a farm up in Vermont reading all about him. I think, Rudy, based on what Leahy said last night, at least his strategy will be to try to delay this, saying that O'Connor gave him such a gift saying she would hang on if her replacement wasn't there. But it's obviously not going to take Senator Leahy a month to read the writings of judge --

GIULIANI: No, he's only been on the court a short period of time. I've already read 3 or 4 of his opinions and I think I could get them all done in about 2-3 days. I'm sure somebody will be summarizing the opinions for Senator Leahy also. So I think he can get done with his opinions pretty quickly.

RUSH: Let me ask a question about all this. You're a student, as many of us are, and we know the real contentious hearings began when President Reagan nominated Robert Bork. Now, Judge Roberts is 50 years old. Apparently he has had an ambition to rise as high as he can in the judicial world, legal judicial world as possible, that would be the U.S. Supreme Court. He had to see what went on during the period of time when Bork was Borked and what happened to Clarence Thomas. Is it reasonable to conclude that he has studied this and made sure that he is not going to give anybody a record or a paper trail or a personality characteristic that they can attack on that basis. I mean, clearly, I think it would be a very smart move if he has this degree of ambition.

GIULIANI: Well I can't tell you if he does. I mean, I know him well, but I don't know him that well. I don't know if this has been in his mind and in his heart from the very beginning. It would be a good guess that it was. I mean, once you clerk on the Supreme Court I think probably a lot of young men and women who do that think, "Well, I'd love to be on this court, too." And he's had a careful career. He's been very, very effective. He's been very good. From everything I can tell, a very quiet personal life, a very stable one. I'm sure all of that is going to be examined. I mean, in the case of Bork, the approach they took were his writings, and the case of Clarence Thomas they tried to attack him on his personal life. And some of those things were surprising that they were able to get such mileage out of those things back then, but--

RUSH: Let me run this by you.

GIULIANI: -- I don't think there is anything like that with John Roberts. But they're sure going to look for it.

RUSH: Of course. I think if you go back and look at some of the really inflamed hearings for some of Bush's judicial nominees on the appellate, like Bill Pryor, I think I've detected a code-phrase from Senator Schumer. He used it again last night to describe Judge Roberts: "We're going to have to find out what his deeply held personal beliefs are." I happen to believe, Rudy, and I'm not asking you to agree with this, just to comment on it if you want. I happen to believe that's code-word for religion. Pryor being a Catholic was a problem for Senator Schumer. Not because he doesn't like Catholics, it's just that religious people are more originalist and more true to the Constitution, more conservative, and it's just another way of calling somebody a conservative without actually using the label. "Deeply held personal beliefs." Well, Judge Roberts is a Catholic. What do you expect from the Democrats on the judiciary committee as this goes forward?

GIULIANI: I think they're going to try to engage him in both discussing his, as Senator Schumer put it, deeply held personal views. I think they're also going to try to get him -- I heard some of them saying it last night -- to opine on how he would decide on questions coming before him. I'm sure he will stick to this, but the correct approach for him is that he should not give his opinion on how he would decide cases coming before him on the court. I think that is kind of inappropriate anyway. I mean, a person going on the Supreme Court should leave himself open as much as possible to listening to arguments. Either changing his mind if he has to, based on the facts kind of being different than he thought and I think he can answer quite effectively that, "I'm just not going to give you an opinion about something that comes before me on the court because I have no idea how I'll decide that right now. I have to listen to the arguments. I have to talk to the other justices. I have to keep my mind open." But I think they're going to try very hard to get him into that. They're going to use his prior opinions. The other thing they're going to do is go back to the cases he argued when he was principal deputy solicitor general in the Bush administration, where he argued many, many times before the court.

RUSH: Yeah, but there he has a client, the U.S. Government.

GIULIANI: Well, that's his answer and it's the correct one. "I'm a lawyer. I've argued a lot of different cases. If I have a client, whether it was the government, I argued for the government, I argued for the Supreme Court. It wasn't incumbent on me to have to agree with every position of my client. I had to argue it effectively. That is what you are trained to do in law school." So I think that will be his answer and it doesn't necessarily say what he is going to decide as a judge. I think that is part of why President Bush selected him because having not been a judge for a long time, you can't pin him down. I mean, which is good. It will get him through.

RUSH: I tell you, what you describe, you know, not answering questions how he'll rule on future cases, Bork tried it and didn't get away with it. Clarence Thomas tried it, didn't get away with it. Guess who did? Ruth Bader Ginsburg got away with it. What he ought to do is say, "I hope the senate committee will allow me to invoke the Ginsburg rule."

GIULIANI: (Laughing) Correct, right! And I think she got through in 50 or 55 days.

RUSH: Yeah, with a 93-6 vote or some such thing.

GIULIANI: He got through unanimously for the second highest court in the country. The circuit court. So I think, I mean, these things consistently surprise us because they get worse and worse and worse. Meaning the confirmation process. But I think in terms of a wise choice, from all points of view, the president couldn't have done any better.

RUSH: I appreciate your information on this. I'm glad that you made some time for us. Always a thrill to talk to you, sir.

GIULIANI: Always good to talk to you, too, Rush. Take care.

At 1:39 PM, Blogger KG said...

Abortion isn't the only issue that the Supreme Court has to decide. There are hundreds of more important issues that the Court faces.

Rudy is a lawyer and will appoint good judges.

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