Diane Wood and Abortion

The wrap on Judge Diane Wood from the right is that she has “extreme” views on abortion. Emily Bazelon considers the evidence and finds it wanting, making the following excellent point:

In revisiting a decade-old Supreme Court ruling that made abortions harder to obtain, Wood clearly took a pro-choice stance. But is this ruling radical or outside the mainstream of constitutional thought? Only if the right has succeeded in stifling every last judicial impulse to ensure that women can have unburdened access to abortion.

Beyond this, though, if Elena Kagan winds up getting the nod in favor of Wood it will in part be another triumph for the unfortunate trend toward “never say anything about anything” legal scholarship. Wood’s real sin here isn’t so much that she has an extreme view of abortion or anything else, but that as an appellate judge she had the misfortune to hear several controversial cases about abortion. It seems plausible that Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan or any number of other possible Supreme Court justices would have ruled the exact same way. But they didn’t.

The overall trend has been toward an unfortunate situation in which the ideal nominee is someone with no record on anything anyone is interested in, but who the President has some kind of private reason to believe shares his convictions. It’s a nutty way to run a country.