President Obama Likely to Pick Pro-Abortion Supreme Court Justice After Souter

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Obama Likely to Pick Pro-Abortion Supreme Court Justice After Souter

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 1
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Now that pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice David Souter has announced his future retirement in June, speculation turns to President Barack Obama. During the presidential campaign, he made it clear he would only appoint a pro-abortion activist to the high court if given a chance to nominate a new judge.

During the presidential election last year, Obama claimed he wouldn’t have a pro-abortion litmus test for the high court– “I think it’s true that we shouldn’t apply a strict litmus test” but he has said in the past that he thinks any Supreme Court nominee should support the Roe decision.

He admitted that “Roe versus Wade probably hangs in the balance” because the next president will appoint one or more Supreme Court judges.

“I would not provide a litmus test. But I am somebody who believes that Roe versus Wade was rightly decided,” Obama added.

During a November, 2007 debate with Democratic primary candidates, Obama confirmed he would only back pro-abortion Supreme Court picks.

"I would not appoint somebody who doesn’t believe in the right to privacy," he said.

Souter was one of the five-member pro-abortion majority on the high court and Obama is expected to pick a new justice whose pro-abortion views mirror his.

Political observers have already mentioned several names and some of them are known abortion advocates who would likely keep Roe v. Wade and its provision for virtually unlimited abortions in place.

Many of the prospects are women, given that the Supreme Court has just one female jurist, pro-abortion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and that her advancing age and poor health may make it so the rest of her tenure is limited.

The list of potential replacements includes incoming solicitor general Elena Kagan, formerly the dean of the Harvard Law School.

The Senate recently confirmed her for the post of Solicitor General, the attorney who represents the government before the Supreme Court, but pro-life advocates opposed her nomination.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life women’s group Susan B. Anthony List, told her organization urged pro-life advocates to ask their members of the Senate to vote no on Kagan, who has a longstanding pro-abortion position.

"In the past Kagan has been a strong supporter of the pro-abortion agenda," Dannenfelser explains. "She has vigorously opposed the de-funding of taxpayer-funded clinics which promote abortions, despite the fact that a majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars to fund abortion providers."

Appellate judge Diane Wood is another possibility. Wood is a member of the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and she has a long history of taking the pro-abortion side when it comes to pro-life issues.

Wood ruled against bans on partial-birth abortion in cases involving legislation from Wisconsin and Illinois. She joined the federal court in ruling that Wisconsin’s law was unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s first ruling on partial-birth abortions in 2000.

Judge Wood also ruled in favor of abortion advocates by allowing them to misuse the RICO law designed to control mob activities to sue pro-life protesters.

Wood could have an advantage if only because she is said to be favorable to economic conservatives and she taught at the University of Chicago at the same time Obama was teaching constitutional law there.

Other potential picks include Leah Ward Sears, the chief justice of Georgia’s Supreme Court; Stanford’s Pam Karlan; Johnnie Rawlinson, an appeals court judge and the first African American woman appointed to that circuit; and Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Men who have been mentioned as potential nominees include pro-abortion Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein and U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo of Chicago.

Whomever Obama appoints will likely enjoy an easy road to confirmation because the chamber contains 59 Democrats, an expected 60th Democrat if Al Franken of Minnesota joins the chamber soon, and a few pro-abortion Republicans who may side with Democrats.

If Obama names an abortion activist to the high court, pro-life groups will likely be encouraging pro-life senators to filibuster the nomination.

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