Ed Driscoll

"What Do Richard Nixon And Ruth Bader Ginsburg Have In Common?"

That’s the question Jeff Jacoby asks, in his op-ed titled, “Abortion And The Echo Of Eugenics:”

Not much linked the former president, who died in 1994, and the associate justice now in her 17th year on the Supreme Court. But each was in the news recently with a cringe-inducing comment about abortion. Those comments – one spoken privately long ago, one uttered publicly this month – are a reminder of the ease with which educated elites can decide that some people’s lives have no value.

Nixon was meeting with an aide in the White House on Jan. 23, 1973, when the conversation – recorded on tapes newly released by the Nixon Presidential Library – turned to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision the day before. Though generally against abortion, Nixon said it was “necessary’’ in some cases, such as interracial pregnancies. “There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,’’ he explained. “Or rape.’’

Ginsburg’s words were even creepier.

“Reproductive choice has to be straightened out,’’ she said in a recent New York Times interview. She was referring to the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of Medicaid funds for abortions – a law the Supreme Court upheld in Harris v. McRae in 1980. “Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. . . But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way.’’

Populations that we don’t want to have too many of – who would those be, exactly? Minorities? The poor? The handicapped?

Ginsburg didn’t elaborate and the Times, unaccountably, didn’t ask. Perhaps Ginsburg was describing the opinion of others – but then why speak in the first person (“we’’)? Or maybe she was referring to views held 36 years ago – but then why speak in the present tense (“don’t want’’)?

In One Of Us, his 1991 biography of Nixon, the Gray Lady’s Tom Wicker quoted favorably Pat Moynihan’s assessment  that the Nixon Administration was “‘the most progressive’ of the postwar era.” But Tom and Pat didn’t know the half of it.