by Steven Ertelt
September 11, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — With the Senate Judiciary Committee holding its first hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts, the panels chairman said he has no plans to query him about his views on abortion. Specifically, Sen. Arlen Specter said the committee shouldn’t directly ask Roberts if he would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that ushered in an era of 44 million abortions.
"I think it is inappropriate to ask him head-on if he’s going to overturn Roe, but I believe that there are many issues close to the issue, like his respect for precedent," Specter told NBC’s "Meet the Press."
"We’ll get a better idea of his views, but I think at the end of the hearings he’s not going to take a definitive stand on that question," the senator said.
Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican who backs abortion, said he would ask Roberts about his views on the so-called right to privacy, the foundation the Supreme Court used to create the abortion right in 1973.
President Bush nominated Roberts to replace the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, one of the two dissenters in Roe.
Specter said people are not wrong to want to know where Roberts stands on abortion, but "a judge ought not to have to make commitments in advance as to how he’s going to decide cases or it impinges on his judicial independence."
Such questions "ask a little too much," the senator said.
Specter said asking Roberts about the court’s creation of the privacy right would be fair "and I intend to ask it."
A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows 55% of the public wants Roberts to answer more specific questions about his judicial views rather than limiting them and his responses to general judicial philosophy, which 42 percent favor.
When Americans are asked what they most want to learn about Roberts, the most frequent response concerns his views on abortion.
Without naming any issues, Americans were asked to name a subject or subjects about which they want to know more. Some 28 percent of those polled picked abortion and civil rights and economic issues tied for a distant second with just 6 percent naming them.
Democrats (37%) are more likely than independents (22%) or Republicans (26%) to want to learn about Roberts’ views on abortion.
The poll also found 52% of Americans currently in favor of Roberts’ confirmation, while 26% are opposed and another 22% have no opinion.