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NOM awards Bachmann ‘A’ for abortion views in S.C. presidential forum

Monday’s much-anticipated Palmetto Freedom Forum, held in Columbia, S.C., was an opportunity for the country’s leading anti-gay-marriage group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM), to continue forcing candidates to articulate their positions on same-sex marriage at the federal level; however, the issue that really stole the show was abortion, and the candidate who impressed NOM with the most radical answer was Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn).

Robert George — founder of the American Principles Project, which sponsored the forum, as well as NOM’s chair emeritus — co-hosted the event alongside Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). The final candidate roster was Bachmann, Georgia businessman Herman Cain, former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Texas Gov. Rick Perry was originally slated to attend but dropped out at the last minute to take care of wildfires affecting his state.)

In an blog post, NOM gave Bachmann a “solid A” for asserting that Congress should outlaw abortion by authoring a federal constitutional amendment, following a question from George. In the post, NOM noted that Bachmann’s answer “breaks new ground” and praised the candidate for agreeing to choose a vice president who opposes abortion rights and marriage for gay and lesbian couples and for criticizing President Obama for not defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

From the debate, as reproduced in an initial transcript by CNN:

George: Would you as president propose to Congress appropriate legislation pursuant to the 14th Amendment to protect human life in all stages and conditions?

Bachmann: Yes, I would. I would put forward a human life amendment. And, at the same time, I would do everything within my power to restrict the number of abortions that occurs in the United States. Perhaps no other federal law has done more good for prohibiting abortion than the Hyde amendment. And I would do everything I could to keep out the taxpayer funding of abortion.


George: Because, as I say, some people believe that a constitutional amendment would be needed to overturn Roe vs. Wade, and short of that, the best we can do is put some limitations around the edges and prohibit federal funding, as we have done in the Hyde amendment. But my question goes to a matter of constitutional principle concerning the respective rules of the government. President Lincoln famously said in his first inaugural address that if we permit the policy of the government on matters that are essential to the whole people to be determined simply by the Supreme Court, we will have abdicated our responsibility, handed over self-government to that eminent tribunal, as Lincoln said. So, given the clear mandate of the 14th Amendment, empowering Congress to enforce the guarantee of equal protection, shouldn’t Congress act on that now?

Bachmann: Yes, I believe that they should. And it is not only Abraham Lincoln that subscribed to that view. Thomas Jefferson did as well … because Thomas Jefferson understood that, of the three branches of government, the most important was the United States Congress, consisting of the House and the Senate. The second would be the executive, and the third, and a far distance third, was considered the Supreme Court of the United States. If the Supreme Court, by a plurality of the justices, may impose their own personal morality on the rest of the nation, then we are quite literally being ruled by those individuals, as opposed to giving our consent to the people’s representatives.


George: And if it meant a confrontation with the Supreme Court, are you prepared for that?

Bachmann: Most assuredly.

Romney, who originally had made headlines for refusing to attend the Freedom Forum but then changed his mind, disagreed with Bachmann, asserting that George’s suggestion would amount to a “constitutional crisis.”

Romney: I would like to see that Supreme Court return to the states the responsibility to determining laws related to abortion, as opposed to having the federal Supreme Court from the bench telling America and all the states how they have to do it. I think that’s the appropriate course. … Now, is there a constitutional path to have the Congress say we’re going to push aside the decision of the Supreme Court and we instead are going to step forward and return to the states this power or put in place our own views on abortion? That would create obviously a constitutional crisis. Could that happen in this country? Could there be circumstances where that might occur? I think it’s reasonable that something of that nature might happen someday. That’s not something I would precipitate.

What I would look to do would be appoint people to the Supreme Court that will follow strictly the constitution as opposed to legislating from the bench. I believe that we must be a nation of laws.

Cain and Gingrich, like Bachmann, said they would support congressional legislation to ban abortion, while Paul sided with Romney, saying: “Violence and murder should be dealt with by the states.”

Watch Bachmann and Romney diverge on abortion and Congress’ power in a video mash-up produced by the Huffington Post:

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