Three Senators Now Say Sotomayor Will Uphold Roe v. Wade

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 5, 2009 ( – As Sonia Sotomayor finishes making the rounds on Capitol Hill, meeting individually with lawmakers, two more US senators insist the Supreme Court nominee will continue to uphold legal abortion by maintaining Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon has become the third US Senator to affirm that Sotomayor will respect abortion law set by the legal precedent of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that, along with its companion case Doe v. Bolton, legalized abortion on demand in all fifty US states.

“She acknowledged that Roe v Wade was precedent and established law,” said Wyden according to a report by the Oregonian.

Wyden reiterated the point and added, “Let me be clear. What I was looking for, particularly on that point, was to hear a nominee who was not going to trifle with precedent and the rule or law. She made that very clear.”

According to Politico, US Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has also stated her belief that Sotomayor would stand by Roe, although Snowe did not indicate that she would support Sotomayor’s nomination. Snowe had a 45 minute interview with Sotomayor and stated that “the essence of her approach is deference to the rule of law” and that Sotomayor had expressed her opinion that Roe v. Wade is settled law.

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the foremost advocates of abortion in the US Senate, had also met privately with Sotomayor and was first to express her conviction that she would adhere to the precedent of Roe.

The idea that Sotomayor would uphold Roe comes hardly as a surprise, as President Obama would not likely jeopardize the current 5 – 4 pro-Roe majority in the Supreme Court with a nominee unknown on abortion (see coverage).

However the lack of written decisions reflecting Sotomayor’s legal reasoning on abortion has generated some discomfort among Obama’s pro-abortion constituencies who are looking for reassurance that Sotomayor will not turn out to be like David Souter, the associate justice she replaces. Souter had been advertized as an anti-Roe judge and pro-life during his confirmation process under George H. W. Bush, but voted to uphold Roe in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, instead of striking that precedent down as was expected, and thus return the matter of abortion to the individual states.

See related coverage:

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

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

Share this article