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Questions about a Questionnaire

Harriet Miers's thoughts on Roe v. Wade may be clearer than people suspected.

11:45 PM, Oct 18, 2005 • By TERRY EASTLAND
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But how it speaks today is the question. The questionnaire will doubtless become a much-quoted text during the confirmation hearings, with senators in both parties trying to find out whether Miers is still pro-life. If she is, she will be the first person with stated pro-life views to be named to the Court since Roe. Of course, it is possible to be for abortion rights as a policy matter and against Roe as a matter of constitutional law. Inevitably, the crucial question in this much controverted area is what Miers thinks about the Court's abortion jurisprudence, her personal views of abortion to the side. And for that reason she will be asked (as John Roberts was) whether she agrees with the reasoning and the results in Roe (and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 case which affirmed the "essential holding" of Roe).

Miers has been telling senators this week that no one knows her views on Roe v. Wade, and the smart betting is that she will not use the hearings to declare them. Whether that position will satisfy many Democratic senators seems unlikely, and the questionnaire may only deepen their worry, even as it heartens social conservatives. After all, by constitutional amendment if not by a Court overruling, Miers supported Roe's demise.

Terry Eastland is publisher of The Weekly Standard.