The announcement this morning that Lincoln Chaffee would vote "no" on Alito but "yes" on cloture was a hollow gesture to NARAL and the pro-choice community he pretends to cultivate. A vote for cloture is a vote for Alito. It’s that simple.
I write this post with great regret because I am a long time supporter of NARAL, an unabashed feminist and pro-choice advocate who understood why they backed Chaffee in the first place. As Democrats quickly tried to shed a commitment to choice in a rush to become "Republican lite," it was a way for NARAL to say don’t take us for granted — don’t assume we will be here just because the other guy is worse. I thought it was an effective way to telegraph to Democrats that if they wanted the tremendous money and resources NARAL could put behind a candidate, they were going to have to take a stand.
I just got off the phone with NARAL and I am being told that they do not consider Chaffee’s vote on cloture to be significant. They are not going to pull their support for him over this.
Let’s just be clear. Lincoln Chaffee is getting ready to vote for the single biggest blow to choice in this country since Roe v. Wade was passed 33 years ago. This ridiculous little kabuki about voting AGAINST Alito and FOR cloture is a sham, and if NARAL is going to look the other way they no longer deserve to be the guardians of a woman’s right to choose in this country.
They had the money. They had the manpower. They did not organize effectively to oppose Alito’s confirmation, and now they are rubber stamping his ascendancy to the Supreme Court.
I don’t want to take people’s efforts away from calling their Senators and keeping the pressure on as we come down to the wire, but watching groups like NARAL sit this one out is unacceptable. They should be calling Chafee right now and letting him know that they will cut him off if he throws his vote with the Gang of 14. Anything less is unacceptable, and a mockery of everything they purport to stand for.
NARAL Pro-Choice America
1156 15th Street, NW Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005
Main Number: 202.973.3000
Main Fax: 202.973.3096
Update: Georgia10 at Kos says ditto that.
Update II: Meteor Blades, from the comments: "Some of us can multitask on the phone. I’ve probably contributed $5000 to NARAL over the years, and I just finished telling them that they need to speak publicly and NOW regarding Chafee."
photo: Rick Kimpel