Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh signaled he views the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade as a “settled” matter, coining the phrase “precedent on precedent” while noting it has been reaffirmed several times.
“As a judge, it is an important precedent of the Supreme Court,” he told Senate Judiciary ranking member Dianne Feinstein of California. “I said that it’s settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court under stare decisis,” a Latin term that means to “stand on the decisions.”
“It has been reaffirmed many times over past 45 years,” he said of Roe, noting high court justices “didn’t reaffirm it in passing.”
Feinstein pressed back, saying she has participated in nine Supreme Court confirmation hearings and heard previous nominees promise to adhere to stare decisis only to ignore precedent once on the bench.
Kavanaugh had earlier vowed to follow precedent, if confirmed. He said he has done just that for a dozen years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. But he did not state that under questioning on Roe from Feinstein.
“I don’t live in a bubble,” the father of two young daughters said. “I live in the real world. I understand the importance of the issue.”
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Roe came up again when Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina noted a Justice Kavanaugh and four other conservatives simply could not overturn the case on their own.
“What are you doing for lunch? Want to overturn Roe,” the folksy South Carolinian imagined the conversation. “It doesn’t work that way.”
When asked by Graham if a case on rolling back Roe was to reach the Supreme Court would he “listen to both sides,” Kavanaugh replied: “I listen to all arguments in every case.”
Candidate Donald Trump vowed to nominate high court justices who would overturn Roe. Kavanaugh is under pressure from conservatives to rule to do just that, if confirmed.
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