Precedent No Longer

NPR had a fantastic article summarizing what certain Supreme Court justices testified under oath during their nomination hearings. They often commented on the sanctity and importance of precedent and the constitutional guarantee to privacy.

Samuel Alito

Roe v. Wade is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. It was decided in 1973, so it has been on the books for a long time. It is a precedent that has now been on the books for several decades. [Roe] has been reaffirmed.”

Neil Gorsuch

Gorsuch took the uncontroversial line that Roe is a precedent. Precedent is the “anchor of law,” he said. “It is the starting place for a judge.”

“I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed. A good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.”

John Kavanaugh

“It is settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court, entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis. The Supreme Court has recognized the right to abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. It has reaffirmed it many times.”

None of the five justices who have voted in favor — at least preliminarily — of overturning Roe v. Wade explicitly said during their Senate confirmation hearings they planned to do so. Their answers were evasive at best. Other times, clearly misleading.

The decision declares that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot protect the right to abortion because such a right is not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” This opens the door to attacks on constitutional rights established by the Supreme Court including the right to use birth control, marry regardless of race and gender lines, and engage in sexual intimacy between consenting adults.