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Here’s What GOP-Nominated Justices Said About Roe v. Wade During Their Senate Hearings


WASHINGTON (AP) — In a single form or one other, every Supreme Court nominee is asked during Senate hearings about his or her views of the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling that has stood for a half-century.

Now, a draft opinion obtained by Politico suggests that a majority of the court is ready to strike down the landmark 1973 decision, leaving it to the states to find out a girl’s ability to get an abortion.

A take a look at how the Republican-nominated justices, now a 6-3 majority, responded when asked by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for his or her views on the case:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, then the highest Democrat on the committee, asked Barrett: “So the query comes, what happens? Will this justice support a law that has substantial precedent now? Would you commit yourself on whether you’ll or wouldn’t?”

“Senator, what I’ll commit is that I’ll obey all the foundations of stare decisis,” Barrett replied, referring to the doctrine of courts giving weight to precedent when making their decisions.

Barrett went on to say that she would try this for “any issue that comes up, abortion or anything. I’ll follow the law.“

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked Barrett whether she viewed Roe v. Wade as a “super precedent.” Barrett replied that the way in which the term is utilized in “scholarship” and the way in which she had used it in an article was to define cases so well settled that folks don’t seriously push for its overruling.

“And I’m answering lots of questions on Roe, which I feel indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category,” Barrett said.

It was Feinstein who also asked Kavanaugh, “What would you say your position today is on a girl’s right to decide on?”

“As a judge, it’s a very important precedent of the Supreme Court. By ‘it,’ I mean Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. They’ve been reaffirmed again and again. Casey is precedent on precedent, which itself is a very important factor to recollect,” Kavanaugh said.

Casey was a 1992 decision that reaffirmed a constitutional right to abortion services.

Kavanaugh went on to say that he understood the importance of the difficulty. “I all the time attempt to I do hear of the actual world effects of that call, as I attempt to do, of all the choices of my court and of the Supreme Court.”

With President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination, it was Sen. Charles Grassley. R-Iowa, who asked point-blank: “Are you able to tell me whether Roe was decided accurately?

Gorsuch replied: “I’d let you know that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed. The reliance interest considerations are vital there, and the entire other aspects that go into analyzing precedent should be considered. It’s a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. It was reaffirmed in Casey in 1992 and in several other cases. So a very good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like several other.”

The late Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., asked of the now-chief justice, who was a federal appeals court judge when nominated: “In your confirmation hearing for circuit court, your testimony read to this effect, and it has been widely quoted: ‘Roe is the settled law of the land.’ Do you mean settled for you, settled only to your capability as a circuit judge, or settled beyond that?”

Roberts replied: “It’s settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis. And people principles, applied within the Casey case, explain when cases ought to be revisited and after they mustn’t. And it’s settled as a precedent of the Court, yes.”

Specter, who was unabashedly supportive of Roe v. Wade, observed during Alito’s hearings that the “dominant issue” was the “widespread concern” about Alito’s position on a girl’s right to decide on. The difficulty arose due to a 1985 statement by Alito that the Structure doesn’t provide for the proper to an abortion, Specter declared.

“Do you agree with that statement today, Judge Alito?” Specter asked.

“Well, that was an accurate statement of what I assumed in 1985 from my vantage point in 1985, and that was as a line attorney within the Department of Justice within the Reagan administration.

“Today if the difficulty were to come back before me, if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed and the difficulty were to come back before me, the primary query could be the query that we’ve been discussing, and that’s the difficulty of stare decisis,” Alito said. “And if the evaluation were to get beyond that time, then I’d approach the query with an open mind, and I’d hearken to the arguments that were made.”

“So you’ll approach it with an open mind notwithstanding your 1985 statement?” Specter asked.

“Absolutely, senator. That was a press release that I made at a previous time frame once I was performing a distinct role, and as I said yesterday, when someone becomes a judge, you actually should put aside the things that you just did as a lawyer at prior points in your legal profession and take into consideration legal issues the way in which a judge thinks about legal issues.”

Alito was the writer of the leaked draft opinion, which declares the ruling in Roe v. Wade was “egregiously incorrect from the beginning.”

The late Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, recalled chairing a committee hearing and listening to women maimed by “back-alley abortionists.” He said he was “terrified if we turn back the clock on legal abortion services.”

In questioning Thomas the senator said: “I need to ask you once more, of appealing to your sense of compassion, whether or not you think the Structure protects a girl’s right to an abortion?”

Thomas replied: “I assume as a child we heard the hushed whispers about illegal abortions and individuals performing them in lower than protected environments, but they were whispers. It will, after all, if a girl is subjected to the agony of an environment like that, on a private level, actually, I’m very, very pained by that. I feel any of us could be.”

Thomas declined though to present his opinion “on the difficulty, the query that you just asked me.”

“I feel it could undermine my ability to take a seat in an impartial way on a very important case like that,” he said.

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