Media often report Giuliani supports abortion rights but ignore pledge to appoint judges like Scalia and Thomas

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

Numerous media reports have claimed that Republican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani "supports abortion rights" or is "pro-choice" without noting, as Media Matters for America documented, that Giuliani has repeatedly said that if elected president, he would appoint "strict constructionist" judges and has specifically pledged to use as "model appointments" Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- both of whom have declared their support for overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision finding that the Constitution protects abortion rights -- among others. In the past two days alone, reports by the Associated Press, The Economist, Slate.com , USA Today, NPR, CNN, and CBS have characterized Giuliani as a supporter of abortion rights:

  • On the October 18 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, Fox News contributor and NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams said that Giuliani is "just so unusual -- he supports abortion rights, gay rights, gun control."
  • On the October 18 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer said that Giuliani is "having serious problems winning over some Christian conservatives because he supports abortion rights and gay rights."
  • On the October 18 edition of the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric said that Giuliani "would be the first Republican nominee in three decades to support abortion rights."
  • An October 18 Associated Press article said that Giuliani "angers some conservatives because of his support of abortion rights and past stands on gay rights and gun control."
  • An October 18 Slate article said that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) "flip-flops" were Romney's "biggest liability -- on par with Rudy Giuliani's pro-choice stance on abortion."
  • An October 18 Economist article said that Giuliani "is pro-choice."
  • An October 19 USA Today article said that Giuliani "supports legal abortion."

But a July 17 Giuliani campaign press release stated that Giuliani "pledg[ed] his commitment to appoint strict constructionist judges." The press release went on to state: "The Mayor, who served in President Ronald Reagan's Justice Department, pledges to use U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and current Supreme Court Associate Justices Scalia, Thomas, and [Samuel] Alito as model appointments." Similarly, in a letter to the editor of National Review, Giuliani campaign policy director Bill Simon stated: "[G]iven the opportunity, a President Giuliani would appoint strict-constructionist judges who will follow in the philosophical footsteps of Justices Thomas, Alito, and Scalia, and Chief Justice Roberts."

Nominating judges that Giuliani and his campaign call "strict constructionist" is also one of Giuliani's "12 Commitments."

Scalia and Thomas have both stated that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. In an opinion joined by Scalia, Thomas wrote that the decision in Roe was "grievously wrong" in a dissent to Stenberg v. Carhart, a decision striking down a Nebraska law that, in the majority's words, "ban[s] 'partial birth abortion.' " As Media Matters has noted, President Bush has reportedly named Scalia as his model for appointing Supreme Court justices. Roberts and Alito, Bush's two appointees to the Supreme Court, have not yet written or joined any Supreme Court opinions discussing whether Roe was correctly decided. Both Roberts and Alito joined with the majority decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, but neither of them joined Thomas' concurring opinion in that case, again joined by Scalia, in which Thomas said, "I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court's abortion jurisprudence, including ... Roe v. Wade ... has no basis in the Constitution.

Moreover, as Media Matters has noted, Giuliani has vacillated on the issue at various points in his career as a public official, and this year alone, has wavered on the desirability of the Supreme Court's overturning Roe v. Wade.

From the October 18 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition:

DEBORAH AMOS (NPR foreign correspondent): But, Juan, the Republicans have a leading candidate and that's Rudy Giuliani. It's just that he doesn't quite fit the classic Republican mold. Is that where the problem is?

WILLIAMS: That's exactly right. I mean, he's consistently led the national polls. Giuliani has not lost the lead to either [former Sen.] Fred Thompson [TN] or to candidates who've been in the race for some time, such as Senator John McCain [AZ] and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Those people have not made a powerful case to the national audience of major Republican donors or Republican decision-makers and elected officials. They really also have not made the case that they can defeat any of the front-runners on the Democratic side. Giuliani makes the case consistently that he runs best against the likes of [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [NY] and [Sen.] Barack Obama [IL], as well as [former Sen.] John Edwards [NC].

But getting back to your point that the reason that the party has been slow to embrace him as the frontrunner. He's just so unusual -- he supports abortion rights, gay rights, gun control. He doesn't fit the family values-evangelical template for a Republican presidential candidate.

From the 7 p.m. ET hour of the October 18 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is leading the Republican pack in many of the national polls, but he's having serious problems winning over some Christian conservatives because he supports abortion rights and gay rights.

I talked about that and more with Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. His latest book is entitled The Divided States of America. I asked him if he could vote for Rudy Giuliani if he gets the nomination.

From the October 18 edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:

COURIC: Different priorities may mean a new acceptance of a new kind of GOP candidate. Current front-runner Rudy Giuliani, who would be the first Republican nominee in three decades to support abortion rights, is almost tied for first among white evangelical voters. If Giuliani succeeds, Land says the party might be over, and a third candidate, a real social conservative, could emerge.

From the October 18 Associated Press article:

As for [Sen. Sam] Brownback's [KS] anticipated departure from the Republican presidential primary race, Giuliani said he liked and respected his rival, praising him for his contribution to GOP debates.

"You know I'm an optimist, so I think I can win over some of his supporters," said Giuliani, who angers some conservatives because of his support of abortion rights and past stands on gay rights and gun control.

Giuliani was in Chicago to take part in a small round-table discussion with about a dozen elected officials and health care leaders at the University of Illinois-Chicago to discuss medical malpractice and other legal system reforms.

From the October 18 Slate article:

But ask voters about Romney's flip-flops, and they speak out loud. In a recent Des Moines Register poll, likely caucus attendees listed Romney's multiple positions as his biggest liability -- on par with Rudy Giuliani's pro-choice stance on abortion. In a Pew Center poll, only 12 percent of respondents thought of Mitt Romney when the word honest was presented to them, the lowest of the four major Republican candidates. A Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that only 13 percent of Republicans find Mitt Romney honest and trustworthy, also the lowest of the four major Republican candidates. A CNN/Opinion Research poll found that 15 percent of adults found Mitt Romney to be the most honest -- again, the bottom of the field.

From the October 18 Economist article:

Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign was endorsed by Rick Perry, the governor of Texas. The backing, from such a prominent conservative, should help Mr Giuliani, who is pro-choice, in his effort to win over the Republican rank-and-file during the primaries.

Iowa's Republicans set January 3rd as the date for their party caucus, earlier than had been expected. The Democrats are considering the same date to hold their vote. See article

From the October 19 USA Today article:

Christian conservatives have not coalesced behind any Republican and have objections to most of them. Rudy Giuliani supports legal abortion, a deal breaker for many. Fred Thompson and John McCain oppose a federal ban on same-sex marriage and led efforts to limit political spending by interest groups. Mitt Romney is Mormon -- troubling to some Christians -- and didn't oppose abortion until 2004.

"None of these guys are running because they're social conservatives," says Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator. "They all have problems on these issues, and most of them aren't comfortable talking about them."

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