Over the weekend, Republican Majority Leader Frist once again chided Arlan Specter for his comments regarding whether or not an anti-abortion judge could win approval to the supreme court. Frist claimed, Specter, "who has questioned whether an abortion opponent could win approval to the U.S. Supreme Court must agree to back President Bush's nominees if he is to head the committee acting on those nominations, the Senate's Republican leader said. A chairman must be 'responsible to the feelings, the wishes, the beliefs, the values, the procedures that are held by ... the Republican committee members,' Frist said." (Link)
This is a very disastrous approach for the Republican party to make. First, the responsibility for any Senator is to his and her constituents, not to any party or any single person. The people of Pennsylvania are the ones who elected him to his position. The people of Pennsylvania are the ones who entrusted him to make decisions in their best interest. His first duty is to serve them, not the GOP. Additionally, the legislative branch was created as a check to the powers of the president, not a rubber stamp. It is not his job to fall into lock step at the will of Mr. Bush. Senator Specter knows he has a mandate from the people of Pennsylvania to protect the woman's right to choose. If Senator Specter would have run on a pro-life platform, he would never had defeated his opponent.
Second, the claim that the anti-abortion supporters do not use a litmus test for who they back for supreme court nominees is as ludicrous as saying the pro-choice supporters don't either. Both sides use a litmus test. Pro-lifers will be pouring through the past decisions of any nominee to see if his/her decisions appear to be in line with their beliefs. With Christian antiabortion groups are planning a "pray-in" on Capitol Hill tomorrow to try to block Specter, I don't think anyone can claim there is no litmus test on the Right (And does anyone else think it is ironic that litmus paper turns red when dipped in an acid and blue for base?)
Third, the GOP is walking a very fine line and stands the chance of alienating the pro-choice supporters within its ranks. By saying a person cannot be a Republican and be pro-choice is a dangerous move that could push millions of supporters out of its party. Bob Jones III, president of the Christian conservative Bob Jones University in South Carolina, recently urged Bush to purge moderates from the White House with statements like "If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them," in a letter to Bush after the election. "Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ," will only skrink the ranks of the GOP. (Link) It would be wise for the GOP to remember that it is made up of many factions, including many fiscal conservatives who are socially progressive. The 17% who made up the "moral values" vote going Bush's way in the last election (20% of the 22% who named moral issues as theit top concern voted for Kerry - Bush did not get all of the vote) cannot sustain itself as a power player in Washington for long without the support of the moderate Rupublicans.