White House Says Obama Did Not Ask Sonia Sotomayor About Abortion Stance

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

White House Says Obama Did Not Ask Sonia Sotomayor About Abortion Stance

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 28
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A White House official has told reporters that pro-abortion President Barack Obama did not ask Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor about abortion during her pre-nomination interview. Although Sotomayor reportedly spent several hours interviewing with the president, abortion did not come up.

“The president doesn’t have a litmus test and that question was not one that he posed to her,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters, according to a CNS News report.

Despite Gibbs’ comments, pro-life advocates viewed Obama as having a clear litmus test on Supreme Court appointments.

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.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign said in an email that Obama would have problems appointing a Supreme Court nominee at odds with Roe v. Wade, the decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions.

“While I have no litmus test for judges, my bottom line is confidence that a judicial nominee will respect the constitutionally protected rights of all Americans and resist the temptation to substitute personal ideology for legal reasoning," the campaign said for the candidate.

"I believe, however, that a judicial nominee with a history of undermining settled law like Roe v. Wade deserves greater scrutiny," the email continued. "Nominees to the federal bench who are out-of-step with mainstream America should not be confirmed. That is why in the past I have opposed the nominations of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito."

Also, an unnamed White House official has confirmed to CNN that Obama’s appointment of Sotomayor was done with the idea of influencing pro-abortion Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Kennedy is now considered the lynchpin on the high court vis-a-vis abortion and has voted to both uphold Roe but also to allow legislative limits, such as his opinion upholding the national ban on partial-birth abortions.

"[Obama] was very struck, when he met with her, about how thoughtful she was as a judge," the White House source said. "He believed she had a precise approach to cases that would be effective in winning over Kennedy when possible."

With little to go on concerning Sotomayor’s views on Roe and abortion policy, detractors could easily view the comments as Obama’s attempt to push the Supreme Court further to the pro-abortion side.

Kennedy earned the praise of pro-life advocates because of his partial-birth abortion opinion which acknowledged that abortion hurts women and cast doubt on claims that abortion has no medical or mental health ramifications.

If Sotomayor can persuade Kennedy otherwise, he could join the court’s other four pro-abortion judges for a new majority overturning the decision.

On the other hand, if Sotomayor surprises everyone — much the way Souter surprised pro-life advocates by becoming an abortion champion — she could join the court’s four judges perceived to be pro-life to overturn Roe or work with Kennedy to, at minimum, chip away at it further.

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