By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 3, 2009 ( – Judiciary committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday told reporters that Judge Sonia Sotomayor had satisfied her concern that the nominee to become the next Supreme Court judge would uphold liberal access to abortion as founded in Roe v. Wade.

Following a meeting with Sotomayor, who has spent the last two days at Capitol Hill meeting with senators, the pro-abortion senator admitted that the discussion broached the topic of abortion. Asked to elaborate on that topic, Feinstein praised Sotomayor's “respect for precedent.”

“I think she is a woman who is well-steeped in the law and well-steeped in precedent,” said Feinstein. ”And I believe that she has a real respect for precedent, and that she was not just saying that. And if that is really true, then I would agree with her. And I believe it is.” 

Feinstein's words confirm earlier reports that point to pro-abortion proclivities in Obama's choice to replace retiring Supreme Court judge David Souter. While several pro-abortion groups have expressed concern that Obama's Sotomayor has not proven herself as a champion of abortion, Planned Parenthood, like Feinstein, had assured constituents of Sotomayor's fidelity to “precedent.”

Feinstein also said that Sotomayor regretted the wording of her controversial statement decried by conservatives as revealing a “reverse racist” viewpoint. 

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life,” Sotomayor had told an audience at the University of California-Berkeley Law School in 2001.

“She said, 'Obviously it was a poor choice of words, if you read on and read the rest of my speech you wouldn’t be concerned with it, but it was a poor choice of words,'” Feinstein told reporters. 

Conservative leaders such as Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, who had questioned Sotomayor's racism, have more recently softened their approach to Sotomayor. Limbaugh said his support for the nomination rested on the Catholic Latina judge proving that she is not hostile to the pro-life cause.

“I can see a possibility of supporting this nomination if I can be convinced that she does have a sensibility toward life in a legal sense,” the radio guru told his audience today. 

The Senate Judiciary committee has not yet scheduled hearings to examine the nominee. Though promising to look carefully at Sotomayor's record, leading GOP senators on Sunday indicated that the party was not planning a filibuster to block the nomination.

See related coverage:

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


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