(CNSNews.com) - Is Roe v Wade settled precedent or could it be overturned? In response to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's question at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Judge Brett Kavanaugh gave the following answer:
"Senator, I said that it's settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court and entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis. One of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years, as you know. And most prominently, most importantly, reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v Casey in 1992.
"And as you well recall, Senator, when that case came up, the Supreme Court didn't just reaffirm it in passing. The Court specifically went through all the factors of stare decisis in considering whether to overrule it.
"And the joint opinion of Justice Kennedy, Justice O'Connor, and Justice Souter, at great length, went through those factors. That was the question presented in the case."
(Stare decisis is a Latin term meaning "to stand by that which is decided.")
Feinstein told Kavanaugh she's been told before that a nominee will follow precedent, but once confirmed, they don't. "I truly believe that women should be able to control their reproductive systems, with obviously some concern for a viable fetus," she told Kavanaugh.
"And I understand, your point of view on that, Senator, and I understand how passionate and how deeply people feel about this issue," Kavanaugh replied. "I understand the importance of the issue. I understand the importance that people attach to the Roe v Wade decision, to the Planned Parenthood versus Casey decision.
"I don't live in a bubble. I understand -- I live in the real world. I understand the importance of the issue," Kavanaugh said.
Feinstein tried again, asking Kavanaugh, "Have your views about whether Roe is settled precedent changed since you were in the Bush White House?
"I will tell you what my view right now is, which (is) it's an important precedent of the Supreme Court that's been reaffirmed many times," Kavanaugh said.
He repeated that Planned Parenthood v Casey reaffirmed Roe and did so by considering the stare decisis factors.
"So Casey now becomes a precedent on precedent," Kavanaugh said. "It's not as if it's just a run-of-the-mill case that was decided and has never been reconsidered. But Casey specifically reconsidered it, applied the stare decisis factors, and decided to reaffirm it. That makes Casey a precedent on precedent."