Obama Never Asked Court Nominee About Abortion, White House Says

May 28, 2009 - 9:46 AM
However, the president did praise&nbsp;his new nominee for her &quot;respect&quot; for following judicial precedent -- namely the 1973 <i>Roe vs Wade</i> decision.

President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. (AP Photo)

White House (CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama never asked his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court whether she supports the Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision -- the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.
 
Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a judge on the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York, to fill the seat of retiring Associate Justice David Souter.
 
“The president doesn’t have a litmus test and that question was not one that he posed to her,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday.
 
Since the 1973 ruling took the matter out of the hands of states, abortion has been a pivotal issue in the confirmation process of nearly every high court justice, particularly since the 1980s. 
 
The New York Times reported on Thursday that abortion rights advocates “are quietly expressing unease that Judge Sotomayor may not be a reliable vote to uphold Roe v. Wade.”
 
Sotomayor has never directly ruled on the constitutionality of abortion. But according to the newspaper, she has written opinions on tangential issues where she ended up on the same side taken by pro-lifers.
 
“We look forward to learning more about Judge Sotomayor's views on the right to privacy and the landmark Roe v. Wade decision as the Senate's hearing process moves forward," Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, says in a message on NARAL’s Web site.
 
The Times reported that Keenan is pushing senators to made discussion about Roe v. Wade part of the nomination process – before they vote to confirm Sotomayor.

In announcing Sotomayor's nomination Tuesday, Obama cited her "respect for precedent and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand." In previous judicial confirmation battles, Democrats have used the word "precedent" to refer to a nominee's support for the Roe decision.