- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 11, 2009

COMMENTARY:

Social conservatives are mobilizing to prevent President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee, Thomas Perrelli, from becoming the next U.S. associate attorney general - the No. 3 post at the Justice Department. In a Jan. 6 story in The Washington Times, veteran reporters Stephen Dinan and Jerry Seper show that prominent special interest groups, such as the Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council, are urging Republicans to oppose Mr. Perrelli’s appointment.

It is rare for a sub-Cabinet nominee to generate such fierce criticism, but Mr. Perrelli deserves it. He was one of the lawyers responsible for the death of Terry Schiavo. While representing Mrs. Schiavo’s husband, Michael, Mr. Perrelli played a key role in having the Florida woman’s feeding tube forcibly removed. The 2005 landmark right-to-die case rightly outraged the pro-life community. As Mrs. Schiavo lay in a coma, her parents and siblings repeatedly said they were willing to take full responsibility, including paying for her medical care. Mr. Schiavo refused. He ordered her feeding at the hospital to be terminated - an act of coldblooded murder.

When the Florida courts and the state legislature refused to save Mrs. Schiavo’s life, President Bush and congressional Republicans sought to intervene. They asked for a transfer of jurisdiction, so that federal courts could review the case. Yet, Mr. Perrelli, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, worked tirelessly to prevent this and prevailed. Thus, the forces of death won. Mrs. Schiavo was slowly starved to death.

Contrary to the claims of Mr. Schiavo’s supporters, the issue at hand was not about the “government intervening in a private family matter” or a husband’s prerogative to decide his wife’s fate in such circumstances. By then, Mr. Schiavo had relinquished his moral authority by hooking up with another woman. While his wife was still alive, he abandoned her. More importantly, the Terry Schiavo case was about the most basic and sacred rights of all: the right to life - a right that is the government’s overriding duty to protect.

Mr. Perrelli’s active involvement should disqualify him from a top job at the Justice Department. If “Piranha Perrelli” (as he is known in pro-life circles) can’t protect a defenseless, incapacitated woman from a ruthless, amoral husband - in fact, goes out of his way to help finish her off - then he certainly cannot oversee the enforcement of America’s laws.

The selection of Mr. Perrelli is symptomatic of Mr. Obama’s radicalism on social issues. He is staffing his administration with hard-core liberals bent on promoting a pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-euthanasia agenda. The president-elect has tapped the likes of Dawn Johnsen, the former legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), to head the Office of Legal Council. He has chosen a fiercely partisan pro-choice Democrat, Tom Daschle, as health and human services secretary. Mr. Obama’s intended secretary of state, Sen. Hillary Clinton, is a pro-abortion feminist, who will use the power of the State Department to promote a secular humanist agenda abroad.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama vowed that one of his first acts as president will be to pass the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) - a sweeping law that will entrench Roe v. Wade and eliminate state restrictions on abortion and parental notification laws. He is a fierce critic of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits use of federal Medicaid dollars for abortions except in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. The law has saved countless lives. Yet, Mr. Obama and liberal Democrats plan to repeal it.

Mr. Obama regularly throws a few crumbs to so-called “values voters” - Catholics, evangelicals, Protestant Southerners, Orthodox Jews - by inviting a pro-life pastor, such as the Rev. Rick Warren, to deliver the invocation at the inauguration or talk about the need to “reduce the number of abortions.”

But this is cheap symbolism and crass political pandering. His actions - and policy proposals - tell a different story: He is filling key positions with rabid pro-choice social liberals; he has openly said abortion is a matter of “reproductive justice.” He has promised the pro-abortion lobby to nominate justices to the Supreme Court that will ferociously defend Roe v. Wade; and he has expressed “regret” for not opposing the GOP on the Schiavo case.

Mr. Obama is a prophet, but a prophet of the culture of death. He refuses to lift a finger to protect the most vulnerable and innocent in our society - the unborn. He now wants to appoint Mr. Schiavo’s lawyer to a senior Justice Department position and he must be stopped in his tracks. Conservatives must vociferously object: Mr. Obama needs to know Terry Schiavo has not been forgotten - and that her death was not in vain.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times.