In questioning yesterday by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito not only refused to say whether he believed the Constitution protected a woman’s right to choose abortion, he also would not say whether he considered Roe to be ‘settled law.’ “If settled means that it can’t be reexamined, then that’s one thing. If settled means that it is a precedent that is entitled to respect … then it is a precedent that is protected, entitled to respect under the doctrine of stare decisis in that way,” said Alito.
Senator Durbin, speaking with reporters during a break in the hearings yesterday, summarized fears of Alito’s views on women’s reproductive rights, saying, “It really, I’m afraid, leaves open the possibility that we are considering the nomination of a justice who will change 30 years of law in this country, a dramatic change to the American society,” the Washington Post reports.
Alito said he would approach cases involving Roe with an “open mind” — words that recall Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings. Just months after Thomas’ confirmation to the high court, he joined a dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that made his position clear: “We believe that Roe was wrongly decided, and that it can and should be overruled consistently with our traditional approach to stare decisis in constitutional cases.”
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