Another Democrat May Oppose John Roberts Based on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 27, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Another Democrat May Oppose John Roberts Based on Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 27, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Another leading Democrat has said he may oppose Supreme Court nomine John Roberts over the issue of abortion. Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said he will vote against Roberts if he determines Bush’s high court pick will be an "activist" judge on issues like abortion.

Leahy said he is worried that Roberts might try to overturn Supreme Court precedents like Roe v. Wade that he believes shouldn’t be changed, according to an interview broadcast Tuesday on Vermont Public Radio’s "Switchboard" program.

"I want to find out if he’s going to be as active as this — as people like Justice (Antonin) Scalia and Justice (Clarence) Thomas, who have almost willy-nilly overruled things," Leahy said of two of the high court’s pro-life judges.

"I don’t see how somebody who said that they didn’t consider Roe vs. Wade settled law … I don’t see how they get confirmed," he added.

Roberts told the committee in 2003 that he considered the decision "settled law," but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said yesterday Roberts had to make the statement because he was looking to be confirmed for a lower court position. As a Supreme Court justice, Gonzales said, Roberts would not have to abide by the precedent.

Leahy joined number two Senate Democrat Dick Durbin, who said Sunday that Roberts’ views on abortions could halt his nomination.

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."

Meanwhile, pro-abortion Republican Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island, frequently a thorn in President Bush’s side, has indicated he likely won’t vote against Roberts, despite his abortion views.

Chafee told the Providence Journal that Roberts’ background and credentials were "unassailable." He spoke of "the credentials, the education, the breadth and scope of the cases he’s argued before the Supreme Court — admiralty law, tax law, environmental law."