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Letter to the editor: Vote on high court judge is critical

This is an open letter to U.S. Sens. Collins and Murkowski.
Dear Senators
I am sure that you know that your vote on the current candidate for the supreme court is by far the most important senatorial decision you will ever make. We all know that, if he is confirmed, then Roe V. Wade will be overturned, and you will be seen by history to be primarily responsible. Why?
Because most of the old men of the senate oppose Roe v Wade in the first place and none of them particularly care about women. But you both do care. Also, the math is precise: if you two vote against his confirmation, then he will not be confirmed; if you vote for confirmation then he will.
In this sense your vote is very much like the vote Senator McCain took, which saved Obamacare. Until that vote, he would have been remembered as an American hero and a man of honor, courage and a deep sense of service — but not for any particular legislative accomplishment. However, since that vote, every history book, every discussion of the present situation of our government, will show the picture of Senator McCain putting his thumb down, and thereby saving health care. It — correctly — outshines every other political act of a great career.
Rightly or wrongly, it is the same for you. One thing is certain: Whatever you have previously accomplished or will accomplish in the future pales beside the vote you are about to take. If you vote against the confirmation, then you will be remembered forever for having the courage to protect women’s rights. Likewise, if you vote to confirm, that act will also define how you are remembered.
I think Justice Kennedy is making that discovery. Until this year, his place in history was unique and special: a conservative in every sense of the word, but nonetheless one who defended the rights of women — and all people — to control their own lives.
But now that has changed. What he has become instead is the Justice who let himself be persuaded to resign in time for this president to appoint his successor, and in so doing may have given his seat to the man who will destroy his legacy. I wonder if he thinks it was worth it? I wonder what his son thinks as well.
It will require courage to do the right thing. But why should that matter? Since when should defending your job outweigh your moral responsibilities? It certainly did not for Senator McCain.
Paul N. Seward, M.D.
Middlebury

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