The contentious issue of abortion was raised early in Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination hearings by both parties, with Judge Amy Coney Barrett refusing to indicate whether she supported the Supreme Court’s previous rulings that abortion rights were protected by the constitution.
“If I express a view on a precedent one way or another, whether I say I love it or I hate it, were I to do that it signals to litigants that I might tilt one way or another in a pending case,” she said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California, asked Judge Barrett three times to state her position on a constitutional right to abortion, and each time she invoked the federal judicial code of conduct, which proscribes sitting judges from fully answering certain questions about their legal views, as have previous Supreme Court nominees.
Abortion “is a contentious issue , which is I know one reason why it would be particularly comforting to you to have an answer, but I can’t express views or precommit to approach a case in any particular way,” Barrett said.
Feinstein pointed to Barrett’s previous statements that the late Justice Scalia was a mentor to her and that “his philosophy is my philosophy.”
She said that was concerning because Scalia has dissented from previous Supreme Court rulings upholding the right to abortion, writing that “We believe that Roe was wrongly decided and that it can and should be overruled.” Roe v. Wade is a Supreme Court ruling in 1973 that found a right to abortion in the Constitution.