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It's Not An Act

Yesterday, John McCain told a group of South Carolina voters, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned." I'm curious if anyone out there still believes--as Jon Chait and Jacob Weisberg have argued in the past--that McCain is just mouthing these lines to curry favor with the Republican base, but doesn't really believe any of this and wouldn't act on it if elected to the White House.

That seems unlikely. The betting line is that the next president will get to choose a replacement for John Paul Stevens, and so decide whether there's a fifth vote on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. Some of my colleagues have insisted that McCain would just nominate a "socially libertarian" justice who wouldn't touch abortion rights. I doubt that. Bear in mind that McCain once voted to confirm Robert Bork--who assuredly would've cast the fifth vote against Roe if put on the court--and that, as a first-term president thinking about re-election, McCain would have an extremely hard time bucking his evangelical backers when it came to judicial nominees, no matter what he truly believes deep down in his heart.

--Bradford Plumer