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 FeinsteinBottom line Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats Senate panel votes 21-1 to back Justice IG measure over Graham objections 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 CollinsCongress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday 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 MurkowskiSenators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Senators push to limit transfer of military-grade equipment to police 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 SchumerPublic awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday 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.