Okay, I admit it. I’m easy. Call me “winsome” and write a thoughtful, well-informed, interesting article about the continuing resonance abortion has on the political process — even if it did not serve as the centerpiece of this last political campaign — and of course I’m going to link to the article. In this case, “the article” is Patrick O’Hannigan’s rumination about the fact that a person’s views about abortion are themselves a litmus test of their morality and about their understanding of the limitations of government and the judiciary. In other words, abortion is not going to go away in large part becauase it actually helps define the body politic.
Speaking of the judiciary, I had a thought this morning about both abortion and the unfairness doctrine. As you know, Obama promised that the first thing he would do as president would be to enact laws promoting abortion to an absolute unfettered federal right, something that takes it even beyond the trimister-by-trimester limitations the Roe v. Wade court imposed. And if you missed it, the FCC, looking forward to an Obama administration, has already made noises about a backdoor approach to the unfairness doctrine — namely, requiring all radio shows to be vetted by local panels, to ensure that the shows meet “community” interests.
With regard to these local reviewing committees, you already know from school books that, if you abandon the marketplace and hand content decisions over to government committees, you first get a voiding of any meaningful content, followed fast and hard by a creeping political correctness. This, incidentally, occurs not just because liberals take over these committees. It occurs because your average fairly conservative person on the committee is a nice person and doesn’t want to make waves. He doesn’t see the Ailinsky incrementalism in front of him. Instead, he just sees a few nice people from his community who make all these heart-rending victim arguments about people’s feelings being hurt by myriad little facts. Your average committee conservative therefore finds himself making one little concession after another so as not to get into a tussle with those other nice people on the panel. The result, of course, is that the product under review (whether it’s a book or a radio show), becomes an information vacuum that is slowly and deliberately filled with Ailinsky-directed content.
But I’m digressing. My point was that Obama, if he’s wily (note that I say wily, which he is, not smart, which I question) is not going to rush into making these changes. Why not? Because the Supreme Court is not yet a reliably liberal, activist engine of change. Justice Kennedy, having taken over O’Connor’s swing position, will probably side with the liberal justices on expanding Roe v. Wade or putting a free speech imprimatur on the unfairness doctrine, but that’s not 100% certain. He’s a bit of a loose cannon. The wily Obama will wait to push these issues until he gets a solid majority on the court. Once it’s a firmly activist court, he can do anything the heck he pleases when it comes to trampling on fundamental constitutional rights such as free speech, the right to bear arms, a true separation of church and state (which also means not making religion second class), etc.
So, my current bet is that, while Obama will do things that have dreadful repercussions, he’ll move slowly on the things that have dreadful constitutional repercussions. He simply won’t take the risk that the Roberts’ Court will undo his efforts.