Reagan's presidency was lost opportunity to kill abortion

Posted: Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Unlike most prolifers, I have found the passing of Ronald Reagan a time for lamenting a lost opportunity, rather than thanking God for sending us a champion.

Mind you, I bare my own share of the blame. When Reagan made his prolife noises in 1980, abortion-on-demand was only seven years old, and I still believed that the end of baby-killing could be effected through strong political leadership and a naive belief that this evil could be quickly vanquished without the necessary re-evangelization of Christian culture.

Reagan courageously made prolife speeches and ran straight at the issue instead of running from it.

However, two things stand out in my mind about his presidency. The first was his betrayal of his prolife support by nominating Sandra O'Connor to the Supreme Court.

Initially this was understood as a betrayal, but then O'Connor's first decision on the issue a year later declared that "Roe v. Wade is on a collision course with itself," which for a time made Reagan's pandering to feminism look incredibly wily. But O'Connor has since proven herself a reliable vote for child murder.

But far worse was Reagan's misunderstanding of the Constitution, which continues today with supposedly prolife politicians and, tragically, with most people who hate abortion. It went like this: "Well, my oath of office requires that I enforce all Supreme Court decisions, even those I do not agree with."

Now hear this: Such reasoning is constitutional nonsense. No president is required to enforce Supreme Court decisions. His oath requires him to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," not the anarchical and tyrannical decisions of the court.

The executive branch is the only enforcement office and the president's opinion carries the same weight as the nine members of the court.

In addition, Congress could at any time invoke Article III Section 2 and remove abortion and other states' rights cases from court jurisdiction.

Like most presidents in the last 140 years, Reagan was well-intentioned but constitutionally clueless. But to be fair, so are most Americans and until a few years ago, so was I.

However, most people who think of themselves as "conservatives" are really nothing of the sort. To yield to the Supreme Court's constitutional fantasies is liberal, not conservative.

No doubt Reagan's contributions to the defeat of Euro-communism will give him a permanent and well-deserved place in history.

But as a prolife president, he was a flop.

Robert M. Bird, Kenai

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