Political circles inside the beltway are buzzing over the pending retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Many speculate that a retirement announcement will happen this summer. Justice Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, consistently voted to uphold the Roe v. Wade decision and its companion ruling, Doe v. Bolton.
If Kennedy retires, the subsequent confirmation hearing will make the Gorsuch hearing look like a bridal shower.
If President Trump appoints a strict constructionist, Roe would be in danger with the necessary five-vote majority now in place. The issue of abortion would go back the states.
This would be a historic moment for the pro-life movement. But it should be remembered that Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr. nominated Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter, who all upheld Roe throughout their tenure. Thus the outcome of the Gorsuch confirmation and Kennedy’s prospective replacement is not guaranteed. Regardless of past disappointments, pro-lifers must buttress themselves for the most titanic confirmation battle in American history.
If the abortion issue is remanded to the states you will see a campaign in all 50 states on this issue that has divided us as a people since the decision was made in 1973.
One problem that I see as a practicing Catholic is that many in the hierarchy care too much about being popular with the opinion leaders in the mainstream media. Gone are the likes of John Cardinal O’Connor and Cardinal Burke who fought head-on against the seamless garment doctrine of the late Cardinal Bernadin.
For example, Cardinal Tobin and Cardinal Cupich who would rather talk about climate change and immigration rather than the greatest civil rights issue of our time. With this said, pro-lifers in the Catholic Church, along with those in the evangelical community, have been a candle in the darkness on the rights of the unborn.
My wonderful mother of eighty-four often remarks that after Vatican II it was the laity that kept devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary alive in our Church, and so it has been with the issue of abortion. God has raised up in our midst leaders like Marjorie Dannenfelser from the Susan B. Anthony List and Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. Both have taken the slings and arrows of the secular media as well as from leaders in their own Church to keep the rights of our preborn sisters and brothers in the public eye.
What must we the laity do at this historic moment? We must keep the pro-life issue alive in our Churches. When we see our priests and bishops avoiding the issue, we must speak up in a way to let them know how deeply we about this issue and embrace the teaching of the Church.
Are we seeing light at end of the tunnel towards the overturning of Roe? No doubt there is a glimmer, but that is all. Remember, however, what St. Paul wrote to Timothy: “ I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith. . . .” Ignore the naysayers, cynics, and crybabies, we cannot stop short of this finish line, regardless of uncertainty and past disappointment.