Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor Calls Roe Abortion Case "Settled Law"

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 14, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor Calls Roe Abortion Case "Settled Law"

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 14
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Everyone watching the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor knew the question about abortion case law would come eventually. When it did, Sotomayor gave the answer most political observers expected — that the Roe v. Wade abortion case is "settled law."

Yet, later in her questioning, she admitted that a right to abortion is not found in the Constitution.

Roe is the 1973 high court decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions and has resulted in the deaths of more than 50 million unborn children.

Sotomayor told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that she considers the controversial decision "settled law" and says there is a constitutional right to privacy.

Later, Sotomayor came under questioning from pro-life Sen. Lyndsey Graham of South Carolina.

“Is there anything in the Constitution that says a state legislature or the Congress cannot regulate abortion or the definition of life in the first trimester?” Graham added. “Is there anything written in the document about abortion?”

Sotomayor responded, “The word abortion is not used in the Constitution, but the Constitution does have a broad provision concerning a liberty provision under the due process."

That right is what the members of the high court used as their basis for claiming the Constitution includes a wholesale right to kill children and injure women in abortions throughout the entirety of pregnancy.

The nominee also said the Supreme Court upheld the Roe decision in the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

"Casey reaffirmed the holding in Roe," she said, responding to questions from pro-abortion Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin. "That is the Supreme Court’s settled interpretation of what the court holding is and it’s reaffirmance of it."

She told the panel "there is a right of privacy. The court has found it in various places in the Constitution."

Sotomayor said "all precedents of the Supreme Court I consider settled law," but added they were subject to the possibility of subsequent reversal, such as the court’s decision in Brown regarding civil rights laws and slavery.

Sotomayor said the privacy right is stated in the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure and in the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection of the law, though neither amendment authorizes abortions.

The first nominee of President Barack Obama to the high court would not say point blank whether she agreed or disagreed with the Roe decision.

Sotomayor’s answer is not a departure from the comments pro-abortion Justice Stephen Breyer said during his confirmation hearings, but it was more definitive than the responses given by Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, both of whom are thought to side with pro-life advocates against Roe.

Roberts, at his Supreme Court hearing, said: "It’s settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis."

Alito said: "It is a precedent. If settled means it can’t be reexamined, that’s one thing. If settled means it is a precedent that is entitled to respect of stare decisis, then all the factors that I’ve mentioned come into play, including the reaffirmation and all of that, then it is a precedent that is protected and entitled to respect in that way."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has come under fire for recent comments alluding to her support for Roe based on population control, was more forward in embracing Roe.

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