'Binding precedent'

Where exactly does Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, stand on Roe v. Wade?

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh speaks after President Donald Trump announced his nomination in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Monday evening ended the national suspense in the wake of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announcing his impending retirement and revealed his nominee to succeed the 30-year veteran of the high court: federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Though many hot-button issues have surrounded Trump’s eventual pick for the Supreme Court, one of the chief concerns of many, particularly feminists, is the impact Trump’s nominee, his second pick for the nation’s top court since taking office in January 2017, could have on the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.

So, where exactly does Kavanaugh, 53, stand on the issue? It’s impossible to know exactly what’s inside his head. And Kavanaugh, as he referenced in his speech several times Monday night, is a member of the Catholic Church, a religion that forbids abortion. On top of all of that, his public record and history of legal rulings on Roe v. Wade and, more broadly, abortion rights, has been rather sparse, NBC News points out. But there are a couple of clues out there.

One of the clearest pictures we can get on his thinking about Roe v. Wade comes from his confirmation hearing in 2006, where he was grilled by senators before being confirmed to the D.C. court of appeals. During that hearing, Senator Chuck Schumer questioned Kavanaugh point-blank on the topic.

“Do you consider Roe v. Wade to be an abomination?” Schumer asked.

“If confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully,” Kavanaugh responded at the time. “That would be binding precedent of the Court. It’s been decided by the Supreme Court.”

Schumer then clarified, telling Kavanaugh he was interested in the judge’s personal opinion.

Kavanaugh demurred. “And I’m saying if I were confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, senator, I would follow it. It’s been affirmed many times, including in Planned Parenthood versus –”

“I understand,” Schumer interjected, “but what is your opinion? You’re not on the bench yet.”

“The Supreme Court has held repeatedly, senator, and I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to give a personal view of that case,” Kavanaugh replied.

“OK, not going to answer the question,” Schumer said.

One other clue may come from his participation in a prominent case last year, in which Kavanaugh’s appeals court ruled that an undocumented teen immigrant, who was pregnant, could temporarily leave government custody to undergo an abortion. He dissented on that case, but not on the grounds that the girl didn’t have a right to an abortion. He acknowledged that she did, but, according to NBC News, said the teen was not entitled to “an immediate abortion on demand.”

Below, watch the clip from 2006 of Schumer grilling Kavanaugh on Roe v. Wade.

Read the full story at NBC News


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