Political backlash of an overturned Roe

TomDavisRep. Tom Davis, R-Va., has long been a rising star in Congress. Most outside of Washington know him for the "steroids in baseball" hearings and for his chairing the Congressional hearings on Hurricane Katrina. He has his eyes on a Virginia senate seat and has said that he wants to run for president someday. As chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, he has immersed himself in the workings of government and is seen as a person who can be bipartisan and very ambitious.

So when I read this Washington Post story -- on Davis' opinion that the political backlash of an overturned Roe v. Wade would not be friendly to suburban Republicans like himself -- I can see how the issue of abortion frightens politicians like Davis. They are not at all eager to see Roe overturned. It acts as a stopgap and keeps American politicians from taking a serious stand one way or another on the issue.

This is just another angle that journalists must concern themselves with when writing about abortion and the politics surrounding the issue.

Here's the summary:

Reversal of the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide could produce an upheaval in U.S. politics and would put candidates who oppose abortion rights at risk of defeat in many parts of the country, a leading House Republican said yesterday.

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee, said the desire of GOP conservatives to see a newly constituted Supreme Court eventually overturn Roe v. Wade could produce a political backlash, particularly in the suburbs. "It would be a sea change in suburban voting patterns," Davis said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Davis's comments came days after the revelation that Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, had written in a 1985 memo that he did not believe there was a constitutional right to abortion. Alito has since told senators that those views would not influence his actions if he is confirmed.

But the comments underscored the potential collision between the long-sought goal of religious and cultural conservatives to undo the court's 1973 abortion rights decision and the political implications for the Republican Party's aspirations of expanding its majorities in Congress and holding the White House after President Bush's term ends.

This is not a new concern for moderate Republicans, or a new consolidating thought for liberal Democrats. A few months ago, I read an Atlantic piece on the positive impact of an overturned Roe for Democrats, but because the material is behind a subscriber-only firewall, you're just going to have to take my word for it.

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