By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 8, 2009 ( – More light has been shed on the pro-abortion leanings of Supreme Court hopeful Sonia Sotomayor after news erupted of a brief Sotomayor apparently endorsed that urged the Supreme Court to uphold the “right” to abortion.

The amicus curiae brief, reported late last month by U.S. News and World Report's Bonnie Erbe, addressed the Supreme Court concerning the 1989 case Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. The case involved a complaint by various Missouri abortion providers against a state law defining conception as the beginning of life and disallowing public facilities to be used for abortions.
The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), on whose Board of Directors Sonia Sotomayor served at the time, was among the many pro-abortion interest groups that signed the brief.

In summarizing the interests of the petitioning parties, the brief states: “All Amici share an urgent concern that the Court clearly and unequivocally reaffirm Roe v. Wade…. They fear that any tampering with the right to abortion recognized in Roe will have a powerful, adverse impact on the liberty, equality and health of poor women and women of color.”

The brief also argues that laws requiring abortions to be performed in hospitals would place undue burden on minority and low-income women seeking abortions.

“If, as a member of PRLDEF's board, Judge Sotomayor had objected to any of this language, she could have attempted to stop the group from lending its name to the amicus brief, and she did not,” wrote Erbe. “Big sigh of relief from the pro-choice crowd!”

“Now we know why President Obama said that Judge Sotomayor shared his view of 'the Constitution' and why the White House reassured pro-abortion organizations,” commented Americans United for Life Senior Counsel Clarke Forsythe.

“If Judge Sotomayor holds the position that she signed onto via the PRDF's brief, then, if an abortion-related case comes up on the docket, it will lead to her reading the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) into the Constitution by judicial interpretation.”

The brief is significant as one more clue amid a relatively small pile of evidence that shines light on Sotomayor's thoughts on abortion. However, in the days since President Obama nominated her to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, a clearer picture has emerged of Sotomayor as a steadily liberal nominee who is expected to uphold Roe v. Wade.

After meeting with Sotomayor last week, pro-abortion senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) agreed that the nominee made it “very clear” that she would not favor overturning Roe v. Wade.

A confirmation hearing for Sotomayor is expected to be scheduled in July.

See related coverage: 

Three Senators Now Say Sotomayor Will Uphold Roe v. Wade

Senator Feinstein Assures Pro-Aborts: Sotomayor “Respects Precedent” Set by Roe v. Wade


Is Sotomayor a “Souter” on Roe v. Wade for the Abortion Movement? All Signs Point to No


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