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Kavanaugh: Roe v. Wade has been 'reaffirmed many times'

Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday said that Roe v. Wade has been "reaffirmed many times."

"Senator, I said that it's settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court entitled to respect,” Kavanaugh told senators in response to a question from Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader MORE (D-Calif.). “It has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years, as you know, and most prominently, most importantly, reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.”

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The comments were in response to the first questions Kavanaugh received about the 1973 abortion case during his second day before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is holding a days-long hearing for his Supreme Court nomination.

"I understand the importance the people attach to the Roe v. Wade decision," Kavanaugh added. "I don't live in a bubble. I live in the real world."

Feinstein followed up by asking about his work in the White House under former President George W. Bush. Kavanaugh demurred, saying he wasn't sure what Feinstein was referring to, but added that Roe was an "important precedent."

He added that the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case from 1992 upholding Roe v. Wade was "precedent on precedent."

Kavanaugh's views on abortion are at the center of his Supreme Court confirmation battle.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds GOP senators say only a few Republicans will vote to convict Trump For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (R-Maine) told reporters after her one-on-one meeting with Kavanaugh that the nominee told her that the landmark 1973 case was "settled law."

“We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law. And he said that agreed with what Justice [John] Roberts said at his nomination hearing, at which he said that it was settled law,” Collins told reporters.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Murkowski didn't vote for Trump, won't join Democrats Trump impeachment article being sent to Senate Monday MORE (R-Alaska) also told reporters after her meeting with Kavanaugh that he confirmed his comments to Collins.

Liberal groups have voiced concerns about Kavanaugh’s nomination because, if confirmed, he’s expected to help swing the court to the right for decades. Kavanaugh was nominated to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was the fifth vote in the 1992 decision upholding Roe v. Wade.

Democrats dismissed Kavanaugh's "settled law" comments last month, when he initially made them to Collins.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDivide and conquer or unite and prosper Roe is not enough: Why Black women want an end to the Hyde Amendment National Guard back inside Capitol after having been moved to parking garage MORE (D-N.Y.) called Kavanaugh's answer a "judicial dodge."

"This is not as simple as Judge Kavanaugh is saying Roe is settled law,” Schumer told reporters at the time. “Everything the Supreme Court decides is settled law until it unsettles it. Saying a case is settled law is not the same thing as saying a case was correctly decided."

Kavanaugh isn't the first Supreme Court nominee to say they believe Roe v. Wade is settled law.

Questioned during his confirmation hearing about the case, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts told senators at the time that it was "settled as a precedent of the court."

"It’s settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis,” Roberts said. “And those principles, applied in the Casey case, explain when cases should be revisited and when they should not.”

Then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito told senators during his confirmation hearing that Roe is an "important precedent" for the court.

"I think that when a decision is challenged and it is reaffirmed that strengthens its value as stare decisis for at least two reasons," Alito said.