Top Democrat: Abortion Stance Could Halt John Roberts’ Bid

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 25, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Top Democrat: Abortion Stance Could Halt John Roberts’ Bid Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 25, 2005

Washington, DC ( — The number two Democrat in the Senate said Sunday that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts’ views on abortions could halt his nomination to the high court. Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin’s remarks appear to indicate he will make abortion a litmus test for his confirmation vote.

Durbin told NBC’s "Meet the Press" that if Roberts doesn’t recognize a right to abortion during questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Roberts would "disqualify" himself from getting Durbin’s vote.

Asked if President Bush had the same right to appoint pro-life justices that former President Clinton had to appoint abortion advocates, Durbin insisted, "I’m not looking for a litmus test."

"As important as reproductive rights and women’s rights are, I just basically want to know that if the next case involving privacy and personal freedom came up, what he believes," Durbin claimed.

However, asked what he would do if Roberts said he did not find a right to abortion in the Constitution, Durbin told "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert, "I wouldn’t vote for him. That would disqualify him in my mind."

The leading Democrat indicated he was planning to join other senators in asking Roberts to be specific about his abortion views.

"I’m going to get very specific. But I’ve had an experience with him before," Durbin explained. "He didn’t get very specific in his answers when he was up for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals."

In fact, Durbin was one of only three senators on the committee to vote against Roberts’ 2003 nomination to the highly regarded appeals court.

Durbin met privately with Roberts for 40 minutes on Friday and told Copley News Service that he would not use Roberts’ abortion views as a "litmus test."

He said it was appropriate to ask Roberts "what he thinks about the underlying principles of Roe v. Wade." Most nominees to federal courts decline to comment on specific cases in order to not to prejudice themselves on future ones.