Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Sotomayor: Second Day Summary
Daily Women's Health Policy Report: Sotomayor Calls Roe 'Settled Law', Says Health of Woman Must Be Considered:
During the second day of her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor said she views the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S. as settled law reaffirmed by subsequent Supreme Court rulings, the Washington Post reports (Goldstein et al., Washington Post, 7/15). At Tuesday's hearing, lawmakers pressed Sotomayor on her views regarding abortion rights and Supreme Court precedent, the New York Times reports. She told committee members that the contraception rights case that is the foundation for Roe was "the precedent of the court, so it is settled law." She also said the 1992 ruling in Casey v. Planned Parenthood "reaffirmed the core holding of Roe," adding, "That is the precedent of the court and settled law in terms of the holding of the court" (Savage, New York Times, 7/15). Sotomayor said that "there is a right of privacy" and that the Supreme Court "has found it in various places in the Constitution." She cited the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure and the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection of the law (AP/Yahoo! News, 7/14).
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) asked Sotomayor if she considered the 2007 ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart an example of settled law. In the case, the court voted 5-4 to uphold the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. The ruling was the first time since Roe that the court upheld an abortion restriction that made no exception for the health of the woman, the Times reports. In her response, Sotomayor said that "[a]ll precedent of the Supreme Court I consider settled law, subject to the deference the doctrine of stare decisis would counsel," although she did not address the health exception component of the Gonzales case.