September 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump struck a noncommittal tone on the future of Roe v. Wade in a new interview Monday, suggesting he will defer to the Supreme Court on whether the 1973 ruling continues to force abortion-on-demand on all fifty states.
The comments came in the debut episode of Geraldo Rivera’s new Cleveland radio show, the Washington Post reports.
“Do you believe that Roe v. Wade should be overturned?” Rivera asked.
“Yeah, I don’t want to talk about it now, because that’s a controversy that I’m going to leave to the courts,” the president answered, in a seeming contrast from his promises before and after the election to appoint pro-life judges.
During his third debate against Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump said that after “put[ting] another two or perhaps three justices on,” Roe’s overturn would “happen automatically in my opinion because I'm putting pro-life justices on the court.”
In office, Trump has pursued a robust pro-life agenda, pleasantly surprising pro-lifers who were wary of his self-described “very pro-choice” past. But Trump’s comments on judicial nominees and Roe have become more coy since he began filling Supreme Court vacancies.
“I don’t think I’m going to be so specific in the questions…and I’m actually told that I shouldn’t be,” the president told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo in July, revealing that he had been advised not to ask potential nominees about Roe. But “I’m putting conservative people on,” he added.
“Well, maybe someday it [abortion policy] will be [returned] to the states, you never know how that’s gonna turn out, that’s a very complex question,” Trump continued at the time. “Roe v. Wade is probably the one that people are talking about in terms of having an effect. But we’ll see what happens, but it very well could end up with states at some point.”
Trump appears to be following a self-imposed rule among Republicans that it would be improper to have judicial nominees endorse or condemn past rulings likely to be revisited in the future. His first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, has largely satisfied conservatives so far, and most pro-life groups are optimistic about his second, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Gorsuch and Kavanaugh’s true positions on abortion and Roe remain unknown, however, with both men having suggested during their confirmation hearings that Roe’s status as precedent adds significant weight to its legitimacy. Many law scholars who favor legal abortion, such as Harvard’s Laurence Tribe and former Harry Blackmun clerk Edward Lazarus, have admitted they think Roe was badly reasoned.