Donald Trump’s appointment of conservative justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has many abortion-rights advocates fearful.
If Kavanaugh is confirmed, the Court will have a conservative majority and could overturn the protections guaranteed to women via the 1973 Roe V. Wade ruling.
On the first day of Kavanaugh’s senate hearing, he was evasive about whether he believes Roe V. Wade could be overturned, calling it “settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis.”
He has also referred to Roe V. Wade as the “law of the land.” Which sounds powerful, but it’s a toothless statement. All current laws can be overturned.
On day two, Kavanaugh faced his toughest challenge on the abortion issue from California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris.
In a tense back-and-forth she showed her experience as a district attorney and prosecutor by backing the justice into a corner.
On the second-to-last question of the night, Harris asked Kavanaugh if he can think of any laws “that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?”
The entire room sat in silence for three seconds, before Kavanaugh replied: “Um … I’m happy to answer a more specific question, but …”
“Male versus female?” Harris responded.
Kavanaugh fumbled around asking about “medical procedures” before Harris succinctly asked the question again: “Can you think of any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?
“I’m not aware of any right now, Senator,” Kavanaugh responded in defeat.
Kavanaugh’s reponse shows he completely understands that overturning Roe V. Wade returns a woman’s power over her body to the will of the government. His caginess shows he’s far from strident in his belief that this fundamental right should be preserved.
The next day, on September 6, confidential documents leaked by Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey show Kavanaugh may not truly believe Roe V. Wade to be “settled as a precedent.”
Kavanaugh challenged the accuracy of deeming the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to be settled.
In 2003, as a White House lawyer in the Bush administration letter he wrote a letter saying: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.”
Your turn, Mrs. Harris.