Schumer: Kavanaugh Refused to Tell Me If Roe Was Correctly Decided

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 23, 2018 | 12:43 PM EDT

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Aug. 22, 2018. (Screen Capture)

(CNSNews.com) - Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor on Wednesday that when he met on Tuesday with Judge Brett Kavanaugh—whom President Donald Trump has nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court—Kavanaugh refused to tell him whether he believed Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey were correctly decided.

“He refused to say if he believed Roe was correctly decided,” said Schumer. “He refused to say if he believed Casey was correctly decided.”

“He could not name for me a restriction on a woman’s right to choose that he would consider an undue burden,” Schumer said.

"Even when I asked him would a ban on abortion after only 4 to 6 weeks be an undue burden, he said he couldn’t answer that," said Schumer.

Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court decision that first declared abortion a constitutional “right.” Planned Parenthood v. Casey is the 1992 decision in which the court upheld Roe, while arguing that “the state has a substantial interest” in what the court called “potential life” and that the state could advance this interest through regulations so long as those regulations did not place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to an abortion.

The court’s opinion in Roe declaring abortion a constitutional right was written by Justice Harry Blackmun, who was nominated to the court by President Richard Nixon, a Republican.

The court’s opinion in Casey, which upheld Roe, was co-authored by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter. Kennedy and O’Connor were nominated by Republican President Ronald Reagan. Souter was nominated by Republican President George H.W. Bush.

In his speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Schumer argued that Kavanaugh is in a different situation than other judicial nominees who refuse to comment on cases that might come before them on the bench because Kavanaugh was nominated by a president who said he would—as Schumer put it—“only appoint nominees who will undo Roe v. Wade.”

In fact, then-candidate Donald Trump wrote a letter to pro-life leaders in September 2016 stating the following: “I am committed to: Nominating pro-life justices to the United States Supreme Court."

“Now, I understand the imperative all judges face not to bias themselves by commenting on cases that could come before their court, but these are some basic questions of already decided cases,” Schumer said on Tuesday. “Furthermore, I told Judge Kavanaugh that he is in a different place than others.

“President Trump has said that he will only appoint nominees who will undo Roe v. Wade,” said Schumer.

“I asked him: Even when he sat with the president, did he tell the president don’t count on him, that he will not absolutely vote to repeal Roe? He didn’t,” said Schumer.

“So, Kavanaugh has a burden beyond that of a normal justice because of what President Trump, the person who selected him, has said unequivocally,” said Schumer.

Here is a transcript of the part of Schumer’s floor speech where he describes his conversation with Kavanaugh about Roe v. Wade and abortion:

Sen. Charles Schumer: "Yesterday I met with President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Our conversation covered many different topics. Unfortunately, Judge Kavanaugh refused to answer even the most basic questions about his jurisprudence. He refused to say if he believed Roe was correctly decided. He refused to say if he believed Casey was correctly decided. He could not name for me a restriction on a woman’s right to choose that he would consider an undue burden. Even when I asked him if a ban on abortion after only 4 to 6 weeks would be an undue burden, he said he couldn’t answer that.

"He could not tell me if he believed the Affordable Care Act was constitutional. Nor would he answer or recall his level of involvement in a number of controversies during his time in the Bush White House, a portion of his record the Senate has been denied access to by the Republican majority.

"Now, I understand the imperative all judges face not to bias themselves by commenting on cases that could come before their court, but these are some basic questions of already decided cases. Furthermore, I told Judge Kavanaugh that he is in a different place than others.

"President Trump has said that he will only appoint nominees who will undo Roe v. Wade. President Trump has said he will only appoint nominees who will declare the ACA unconstitutional. Judge Kavanaugh is under a burden to refute that.

"I asked him: Even when he sat with the President, did he tell the President don’t count on him, that he will not absolutely vote to repeal Roe? He didn’t.

"So Kavanaugh has a burden beyond that of a normal justice because of what President Trump, the person who selected him, has said unequivocally.

"So Justice Kavanaugh’s silence or refusal to commit to even the most common things that should be said--He said he would say Brown was correctly decided. Why can’t he say Roe was correctly decided? There is his silence, especially given his recent praises of dissent in Roe and Casey. In 2016 and 2017, he praised Justice Rehnquist’s and Justice Scalia’s view that Casey and Roe were decided wrongly. What is anyone supposed to reasonably believe? Given that President Trump said that he will only choose people who will repeal Roe and declare ACA unconstitutional, given that he has praised the dissents in Roe and Casey, the fact that he was unwilling to refute any of that in any way or to even say that a limit on abortion after 4 weeks was an undue burden should raise real questions for any American who believes in choice and who believes in the constitutionality of the government helping with healthcare, including preexisting conditions."

 

 


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