WASHINGTON, September 13, 2005 ( – Facing the Senate Judiciary Committee for the second day, US President George W. Bush’s pick for the role of Supreme Court Chief Justice, Judge John G. Roberts, responded to questions posed by Senate committee members.

Committee chair, Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, asked Roberts about his position on abortion. “I think it is a jolt to the legal system when you overturn precedent,” Roberts responded. “It is not enough that you may think that a prior decision was wrongly decided.” The Roe v. Wade precedent, according to Roberts, is “entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis,”– a Latin phrase meaning “to stand by a decision,” meaning that long-established rulings should receive added import and be more difficult to overturn.

Roberts said that the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood precedent-setting abortion case, when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold Roe v. Wade by denying the rights of individual state’s to outlaw abortion, added extra weight to the original 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. “It reaffirmed the central holding in Roe v. Wade,” he said.

However,  Associate Press writer Jesse J. Holland wrote today that“review and revisions have been the hallmark of the high court on issues from integration to gay rights, and Roberts indicated that groundbreaking cases can draw a second look”.ÂRoberts stated, “If particular precedents have proven to be unworkable, they don’t lead to predictable results, they’re difficult to apply, that’s one factor supporting reconsideration”.

The Family Research Council applauded Roberts’ Roe v. Wade response. “Specifically we were pleased with Judge Roberts’ answers about Roe v. Wade,” said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Family Research Council’s Senior Legal Fellow and former Chief Counsel to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution. “Judge Roberts refused to give hints or projections about how he might evaluate a future abortion case before the Court, but carefully stated what the law is on the matter of stare decisis and repeatedly pledged to follow the rule of law.”

  Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America was not happy with Roberts’ answers. She complained, “John Roberts failed to state whether he believes the right to privacy includes a woman’s right to choose as recognized in Roe v. Wade.” Ralph Neas, head of the notoriously pro-abortionÂPeople of the American Way also complained about Roberts’ abortion issue answers stating,“He’s obviously playing a game of dodgeball.”

Responding to a challenge that his Catholic faith could serve as an impediment to impartiality in matters of morality, Roberts responded that, “There’s nothing in my personal views based on faith or other sources that would prevent me from applying the precedent of the court faithfully under the principles of stare decisis.”

Cleaver Ruse also weighed in on the matter of Roberts’ Christianity. “Unfortunately, Judge Roberts’ religion has already been brought up on this first day of hearings. Judge Roberts testified that nothing in his personal views based on faith or other sources would prevent him from applying the law faithfully. This should be the end of the matter, for any interrogation into Judge Roberts’ faith would be tantamount to an unconstitutional religious test.”

Roberts, in introductory remarks made Monday, said, “Mr. Chairman, I come before the committee with no agenda, I have no platform. Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes,” he said. “Justices are like umpires; umpires don’t make the rules, they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical—they make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.”

Read excerpts from the confirmation hearing: