Never mind that she earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a law degree from Harvard. Never mind that she has argued nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and prepared briefs for more than two dozen Supreme Court cases. Never mind that she had the support of four attorneys who served in Ronald Reagan’s administration, as well as President George W. Bush’s Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh. Never mind that she is currently a Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and Faculty Director of the Supreme Court Institute there. Never mind that women are vastly underrepresented in the federal judiciary. No, her credentials, her experience in constitutional law, her well-documented integrity, and even prominent Republicans’ affirmations of her mattered little in the end because Nina Pillard, a mother of two, supports birth control and family planning, as well as medically accurate sex education, and these are the issues that apparently did her in. Sen. Graham’s support of abstinence-only-until-marriage education comes as no surprise: He has helped to steer tens of millions of federal dollars to abstinence-only businesses based in South Carolina (whose owners are politically aligned). In addition, he is on the record voting against funding for contraceptives in the U.S. and abroad on many occasions. What’s surprising (and more than a bit unnerving) is Lindsey Graham’s emerging affinity for Ted Cruz, the freshman Senator now infamous for his role in this fall’s federal government shutdown, and our veteran statesman’s apparent willingness to align himself with his junior colleague politically.
For what it’s worth, I have respected Lindsey Graham up to now although we probably disagree on almost every women’s, sexual and reproductive health issue imaginable. I confess to having voted for him and even to contributing personally to his reelection campaigns --- at first because I was taken by his 2005 fact-finding mission to the Arctic Refuge to study climate change with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and later because everyone who runs against him would likely be even more threatening in regard to the issues I care about. But this new alignment with Ted Cruz is very, very scary. And South Carolina voters like me, who’ve been supporters, may not give Sen. Graham our votes so easily this next go-round if he continues to be acting as though he’s on Cruz Control. The bottom line really is the bottom line: Lindsey Graham already has nearly $7,000,000 in his reelection campaign war chest – compared to less than $500,000 in the coffers of his three GOP challengers combined. He doesn’t need to kowtow to a Texas sycophant or his followers to win reelection. He just needs to represent the best interests of South Carolinians --- all of us, including women.