WASHINGTON (AP) — In one form or another, every Supreme Court nominee is questioned during Senate hearings about their views on the Roe v. Wade on abortion rights that has been going on for half a century.
Now, a draft opinion obtained by Politico suggests that a majority of the court is ready to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling, leaving states to determine a woman’s ability to have an abortion.
A look at how the Republican-appointed justices, now a 6-3 majority, responded when members of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked their opinion on the case:
AMY CONEY-BARRETT, 2020:
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, then the top Democrat on the committee, asked Barrett, “So the question comes, what is going on? Will this justice support a law that now has substantial precedent? Would you commit to whether or not you would? »
“Senator, what I will commit to is that I will obey all the rules of stare decisis,” Barrett replied, referring to the doctrine of courts that give weight to precedent when making their decisions. decisions.
Barrett went on to say that she would for “any issue that comes up, abortion or anything else. I will obey the law.“
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Asked Barrett if she considered Roe v. Wade as a “super precedent”. Barrett replied that the way the term is used in “scholarship” and the way she used it in an article was to define cases so well settled that people are not seriously pushing for its cancellation.
“And I answer a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall into that category,” Barrett said.
BRETT KAVANAUGH, 2018: It was Feinstein who also asked Kavanaugh, “How would you say your position today is on a woman’s right to choose?”
“As a judge, this is an important Supreme Court precedent. By “it” I mean Roe c. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. They have been repeatedly reaffirmed. Casey is precedent over precedent, which in itself is an important factor to remember,” Kavanaugh said.
Casey was a 1992 decision that reaffirmed a constitutional right to abortion services.
Kavanaugh went on to say he understood the importance of the issue. “I’m still trying and hearing about the real effects of this decision, as I’m trying to do, from all the decisions from my court and from the Supreme Court.”
NEIL GORSUCH, 2017:
With President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination, it was Senator Charles Grassley. R-Iowa, who asked bluntly, “Can you tell me if Roe was decided correctly?
Gorsuch replied, “I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a United States Supreme Court precedent. It was reaffirmed. Reliance interest considerations are important here, and all other factors that go into the analysis of precedents must be taken into account. This is a US Supreme Court precedent. It was reaffirmed in Casey in 1992 and in several other cases. Thus, a good judge will regard it as United States Supreme Court precedent worthy of precedent treatment like any other.
JOHN ROBERTS, 2005
The late Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., asked the current Chief Justice, who was a federal appeals court judge when he was appointed, “At your circuit court confirmation hearing, your testimony was read to that effect, and it has been widely quoted: ‘Roe is the settled law of the land.’ Do you mean tuned for you, tuned solely for your circuit judgeship, or tuned beyond that?”
Roberts replied, “It is settled as a court precedent, which is entitled to respect under the principles of stare decisis. And those principles, applied in the Casey case, explain when cases should be reconsidered and when they shouldn’t. And it’s settled as a court precedent, yes.
SAMUEL ALITO, 2006
Spectre, who shamelessly supported Roe v. Wade, observed during the Alito hearings that the “dominant issue” was the “widespread concern” regarding Alito’s position on a woman’s right to choose. The issue arose because of a 1985 statement by Alito that the Constitution does not provide for the right to abortion, Specter said.
“Do you agree with that statement today, Judge Alito? Specter asked.
“Well, that was a correct statement of what I thought in 1985 from my perspective in 1985, and that was as a line attorney in the Reagan administration’s Department of Justice.
“Today, if the question should be put to me, if I am lucky enough to be confirmed and the question should be put to me, the first question would be the question that we discussed, and that is the question of stare decisis,” Alito said. “And if the analysis were to go beyond that point, then I would approach the question with an open mind, and I would listen to the arguments that were made.”
“So you would approach it with an open mind despite your 1985 statement?” Specter asked.
“Absolutely, senator. This is a statement I made in a previous period when I was in a different role, and as I said yesterday, when someone becomes a judge, you really have to put aside the things you’ve done as a lawyer at earlier times in your legal career and think about legal matters as a judge thinks about legal matters.
Alito was the author of the leaked draft opinion, which states that the decision in Roe v. Wade was “extremely wrong from the start”.
CLARENCE THOMAS, 1991:
The late Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, recalled chairing a committee hearing and listening to women mutilated by “clandestine abortionists.” He said he was “terrified if we backtrack on legal abortion services”.
In questioning Thomas, the senator said, “I want to ask you once again, appealing to your sense of compassion, whether or not you believe that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion?”
Thomas replied, “I guess as children we heard the muffled whispers about illegal abortions and people performing them in less safe environments, but they were whispers. It would be, of course, if a woman is put through the agony of an environment like that, on a personal level, certainly, I’m very, very sorry for that. I think any of us would be.
Thomas, however, refused to give his opinion “on the subject, the question you asked me”.
“I think it would compromise my ability to sit impartially on an important matter like this,” he said.