Saturday, February 10, 2007

Giuliani the Federalist

Glenn links to an Althouse post regarding Giuliani's views on abortion.

Judging by the emphasis Giuliani has put so far on strict constructionist judges, and on allowing states and localities to figure out what's best for them on (for example) gun regulation, it seems to me that federalism is going to be a core part of his campaign - whether he uses that word specifically, or not.

Among other things, it might be his best way to sell his ideology to social conservatives. If he cannot promise them that he'll support an aggressive pro-life agenda, at least he can say that he'll appoint strict constructionists, and he'll support the right of states to work out their approaches to questions that the Supreme Court rules are within their purview. Given a formulation like this, pro-lifers are likely to read between the lines a return to the pre-Roe abortion regime. (It can happen either through Roe being overturned, or it being left to stand in name only).

Glenn wonders whether Giuliani would take the view that 'a proper reading of Congress's enumerated powers doesn't allow for federal regulation of abortion.' It seems to me that Giuliani went a long way to addressing that when he said he would support parental notification and bans on partial birth abortion. In his interview on Hannity & Colmes (lengthy excerpt here), he technically did not say that he supported them at the federal level. However, the context of the interview (I think) gives a presumption that that's what he was talking about.

I talked about this at some length here. In retrospect, I have to note that I made a big leap there; I read into Giuliani's comments the expectation that Roe v. Wade would be overturned. I see now that he wasn't saying that - but as I said above, I think Giuliani wants social conservatives to read it the way I did.

And as I've noted, Giuliani can probably survive the primary without flip-flopping on guns if he says that it's always been his view that that is a state (and/or local) issue. If President Giuliani opposes at the federal level the gun regulation that Mayor Giuliani supported at the city level, he can probably win the nomination. Once again, federalism is more than a philosophy; it is a strategy.

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