Roberts and Roe v. Wade

Ken AshfordSex/Morality/Family Values, Supreme Court, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

I realize that I said I wasn’t going to blog about the Roberts confirmation hearings, but I was surprised that Roberts came out today and said this:

Supreme Court nominee John Roberts said Tuesday that the landmark 1973 ruling legalizing abortion was "settled as a precedent," as he was immediately pressed to address the divisive issue on the second day of his confirmation hearings.

"It’s settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis," the concept that long-established rulings should be given extra weight, Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee.


The nominee dismissed any suggestion that his Catholic faith would influence his decisions if he were confirmed to be the nation’s 17th chief justice. The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes abortion.

"There’s nothing in my personal views based on faith or other sources that would prevent me from applying the precedent of the court faithfully under the principles of stare decisis," Roberts said.

I’m not terribly surprised that this is Roberts’ view (after all, it was Rehnquist’s as well).  I’m just a little surprised he said it.

I can’t wait for the conservative Christian reaction.  The columnists at Renew America must have had a collective heart attack.

UPDATE:  Wow!  According to this site, there was this exchange:

Specter asks if Roberts believes the const. contains a right to privacy:

Roberts: "I do."

More: "The right to privacy is protected by he constitution in various ways…It’s prot. by the 4th amendment… protected under the 1st amendment [which] protects privacy in matters on conscience…and in addition, the court has, over a series of decisions going back eighty years, that personal privacy is a component of the liberty protected by the due process clause…not just procedurally but in substantive matters as well.

Roberts acknowledges his 1980s-era memo where he added scare quotes to a "so-called" right to privacy, were the views of his superior and do not currently reflect what he personally believes.

I have no reason to think he’s lying to the committee.  Most intelligent jurists, both conservative and liberal, acknowledge that the Constitution protects the right to privacy.