WASHINGTON — During his first day of questioning for his Senate confirmation hearing, Trump U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch stated firmly that he believes Roe v. Wade is precedent and has been repeatedly reaffirmed, and that “a good judge” should treat it accordingly.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley asked Gorsuch about the matter Tuesday morning, noting that it is one of the most significant issues weighing on the minds of Americans.
“I think the case most people are thinking about right now and the case that every nominee gets asked about [is] Roe v. Wade. Can you tell me whether Roe was decided correctly?” he asked.
“Senator, … I would tell you that Roe versus Wade, decided in 1973, is the precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed,” Gorsuch, currently a judge with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, replied emphatically. “The reliance interest considerations are important there, and all of the other factors that go into analyzing precedent have to be considered.”
“It is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It was reaffirmed in Casey in 1992, and in several other cases,” he repeated. “So a good judge will consider it as precedent of the United States Supreme Court, worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.”
Grassley then asked Gorsuch to provide his views on the 1965 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, which concluded that a state ban on the use of contraceptives violated the “right to marital privacy.”
“Senator, it’s a precedent that’s now 50 years old,” Gorsuch stated. “Griswold involved the right of married couples to use contraceptive devices in the privacy of their own home. And it’s 50 years old. The reliance interests are obvious. It’s been repeatedly reaffirmed. All very important factors, again, in analyzing precedent.”
When asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to expound on his views regarding precedent, he explained that “once a case is settled, that adds to the determinacy of the law.”
“What was once a hotly contested issue is no longer a hotly contested issue. We move forward,” Gorsuch said.
Feinstein then inquired if he considers Roe v. Wade to be “super-precedent,” meaning that it is so ingrained into the legal system that it would be significantly difficult to overturn.
“It has been reaffirmed 44 times. I can say that,” Gorsuch replied.
As previously reported, Gorsuch is an Episcopalian, and attends St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado. St. John’s identifies itself as “inclusive” on its website and is led by female minister Susan Springer. Almost all of its deacons are also female.
In 2013, Springer expressed her support for same-sex “marriage.”
“I don’t think anybody in my faith tradition is out to destroy marriage between a man and a woman,” she told the Daily Camera. “I think we are out to find a way to offer the same blessing and the same sense of inclusion to same-sex couples. And I think we stand as prophetic witness, that same-sex couples ought to enjoy the same legal benefits, if you will, as heterosexual couples.”
However, in 2005, Gorsuch penned an article for the National Review, where he opined that issues such as same-sex nuptials and others should be battled in the ballot box rather than in the courts. He is also known as joining a ruling in favor of of the popular craft chain Hobby Lobby, which had sued the Obama administration over its abortion pill mandate.
“It is not for secular courts to rewrite the religious complaint of a faithful adherent, or to decide whether a religious teaching about complicity imposes ‘too much’ moral disapproval on those only ‘indirectly’ assisting wrongful conduct,” he wrote in the 2013 decision of Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius. “Whether an act of complicity is or isn’t ‘too attenuated’ from the underlying wrong is sometimes itself a matter of faith we must respect.”
Many Christians had cited the selection of pro-life and conservative Supreme Court justices as being the reason why they voted for Donald Trump as president. Some had stated that they desired a judge similar to the late Antonin Scalia.
Scalia, however, noted during his tenure that he opposed both the complete abolition of abortion, as well as requiring legalization. He said that the Constitution does not require a state to ban abortion as he believes the 14th Amendment only applies to those who have been born.
“I will strike down Roe v. Wade, but I will also strike down a law that is the opposite of Roe v. Wade,” Scalia outlined in a 2002 Pew Forum. “You know, both sides in that debate want the Supreme Court to decide the matter for them. One [side] wants no state to be able to prohibit abortion and the other one wants every state to have to prohibit abortion, and they’re both wrong.”
“And indeed, there are anti-abortion people who think that the Constitution requires a state to prohibit abortion. They say that the equal protection clause requires that you treat a helpless human being that’s still in the womb the way you treat other human beings. I think that’s wrong,” Scalia further explained in a 2008 “60 Minutes” interview. “I think when the Constitution says that persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws, I think it clearly means walking-around persons.”