On the first full day of questioning by Senators, John Roberts avoided answering questions about whether he would uphold a woman’s right to choose abortion as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Though he was asked repeatedly about his views on Roe v. Wade and the right to privacy, he never said whether he would uphold Roe. While Roberts said he believed in precedent, he also emphasized precedents could be overturned. He explained the factors the Court could consider in overturning an established precedent, but refused to answer when asked how these factors could be applied to Roe.
Roberts said he did believe in the right to privacy. However, he offered only a limited view of the right to privacy. He refused, once again, to elaborate on the scope of that right and whether it extended to the right to choose abortion. Moreover, he said that he believed in a “marital” right to privacy. The question now is, does Roberts’ view of the right to privacy extend to single women’s access to contraception?
“Although some media may be leading with the impression that Roberts supports the right to privacy, he refuses to explain what this means for women,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “Women’s fundamental rights are at risk with this appointment. Women should not have to accept a nominee who is unwilling to answer a basic question about women’s fundamental rights.”