John Kerry Flip-Flops on Abortion and Supreme Court Judges

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 20, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John Kerry Flip-Flops on Abortion and Supreme Court Judges

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 20, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Massachusetts senator John Kerry, the likely Democratic Party nominee, has been resolute in his opposition to appointing any pro-life judges to the Supreme Court — or any other court for that matter. That’s why his comments in a recent interview came as a surprise to both abortion advocates and his campaign.

On Wednesday, in a lengthy interview with the Associated Press, Kerry said he would be open to appointing pro-life judges, as long as they weren’t the deciding vote in overturning Roe v. Wade.

Kerry told AP he has voted in favor of "any number of judges who are pro-life or pro-something else that I may not agree with."

Kerry also appeared to flip-flop during the interview saying "I’m going to make sure we uphold what I believe are constitutional rights and I’m not going to pick somebody who’s going to undermine those rights," but later adding, "Do they have to agree with me on everything? No.”

When AP asked Kerry if nominees would have to agree with his views in favor of abortion, Kerry said, "I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 court who’s about to undo Roe v. Wade. I’ve said that before.”

As it has had to do before to clarify misstatements, Kerry’s campaign immediately issued a statement following Kerry’s interview confirming that the senator pledged to not appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who would overturn the Roe decision.

Aides to the likely Democratic nominee said Kerry was referring only to lower branches of federal courts, not the Supreme Court, when talking about appointing judges who disagreed with him.

Also, the Associated Press reports that Kerry attempted to clarify his comments with a written statement saying, "I will not appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who will undo that right” to an abortion.

Kerry’s comments drew a mild rebuke from one of the nation’s leading abortion advocates. Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt told AP that she would "like to hear him use language that is stronger.”

Previously, Kerry has consistently said that he would only appoint abortion advocates to the nation’s top court — even using it as an issue to fire up his base.

"If you need any motivation let me give you three little words — the Supreme Court," Kerry has been saying recently in his stump speech. Kerry also warns that possible Supreme Court openings "jeopardize the right to an abortion."

"Today, in 2004, we simply cannot afford to take out the broom, and sweep a generation of progress under the rug," Kerry said at a recent pro-abortion rally, referring to the Roe v. Wade decision.

At the rally, three college students from George Washington University were drug away from the event by women wearing NARAL shirts. One woman’s foot was injured in the process as she was drug barefoot over a rough, gravel surface.

Kerry also told AP in the hourlong interview that he regrets his vote to confirm Antonin Scalia, one of three strongly pro-life jurists, to the Supreme Court.

"If you’re looking for me to admit that I made a mistake in my years in the Senate, there you go — there’s one,” Kerry said.

Pro-life groups say they have no doubts that Kerry will stand by his earlier comments that he would only appoint judges willing to uphold Roe v. Wade.

"… [I]f John Kerry is elected President, he has pledged to appoint only pro-abortion judges to the Supreme Court," David O’Steen, executive director of National Right to Life, told