Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee is upset that Elena Kagan once wrote, of the 1980 election,
Even after the returns came in, I found it hard to conceive of the victories of these anonymous but Moral Majority-backed opponents of Senators Church, McGovern, Bayh and Culver, these avengers of ‘innocent life’ and the B-1 Bomber, these beneficiaries of a general turn to the right and a profound disorganization on the left.
Johnson asks, “Was Ms. Kagan so dismissive of the belief that unborn children are members of the human family that she felt it necessary to put the term innocent life in quote marks, or does she have another explanation?”
I don’t know if Kagan has another explanation, but I do. Johnson would do well to read the rest of the phrase. “…these avengers of ‘innocent life’ and the B-1 Bomber,” Kagan wrote. Are B-1 Bombers incapable of killing the innocent? And are the lives of the innocent, whoever they even are, the only ones worth defending?
I’m sure that Elena Kagan doesn’t hold the belief that unborn children are members of the human family. Maybe she is unduly dismissive of that belief; I wouldn’t be surprised. But I think this quote is about contempt, not for the pro-life position itself, but for the all too narrow definition of “life” covered by that label.