Here's what each Supreme Court justice said about Roe v. Wade before they were confirmed

·5 min read
supreme court roe v wade
Abortion-rights activists hold signs during a Mothers Day demonstration outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.Bonnie Cash/Getty Images
  • The Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on Friday.

  • The opinion was supported by five of the conservative judges on the court.

  • Here's what every judge said about Roe v. Wade during their confirmation hearings.

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a 5-4 vote on Friday.

The opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito and supported by conservative justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, three of whom were appointed by former President Donal Trump.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Alito wrote in the opinion. "Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division."

The justices' previous statements on Roe v. Wade have come into sharp focus after the landmark reversal. Senators Susan Collins and Joe Manchin said they were misled by Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.

Here's what each justice said at the time of their nomination.

Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh for Roe Graphic
Wikipedia

Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by GOP President Donald Trump and took his seat on October 6, 2018.

During his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh said the decision was an "important precedent" that has been "reaffirmed many times."

Kavanaugh has also said the ruling was "settled law," but signaled he'd be open to overturning settled law, the Washington Post reported.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin accused Kavanaugh of misleading them during his hearing. 

 

Neil Gorsuch

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch
Associate Justice Neil GorsuchErin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch was nominated by GOP President Donald Trump and took his seat on April 10, 2017.

Gorsuch, during his confirmation hearing, said Roe v Wade was a precedent that was reaffirmed in subsequent cases.

"So a good judge will consider it as precedent of the US Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other," Gorsuch said.

He stopped short of saying how he'd rule on abortion if a case was presented in front of him.

 

Amy Coney Barrett

amy coney barrett
Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett stands during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021.Erin Schaff/AFP via Getty Images

Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett was nominated by GOP President Donald Trump and took her seat on October 27, 2020.

During her confirmation hearing, she said she'd follow the rules of precedent on issues tied to Roe v Wade.

"What I will commit is that I will obey all the rules of stare decisis, that if a question comes up before me about whether Casey or any other case should be overruled, that I will follow the law of stare decisis, applying it as the court is articulating it, applying all the factors, reliance, workability, being undermined by later facts in law, just all the standard factors," she said, according to The New York Times.

At the time, Barrett sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee revealing that she had signed off on a 2006 anti-abortion ad.

John Roberts

Chief Justice John Roberts
Chief Justice John RobertsErin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Chief Justice John Roberts was nominated to the Supreme Court by GOP President George W. Bush and was appointed on September 29, 2005.

During his confirmation hearing, Roberts said the 1973 landmark decision was "settled as a precedent of the court."

"I do think that it is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent. Precedent plays an important role in promoting stability and even-handedness," he told the Senate at the time.

 

Samuel Alito

Justice Alito
Wikipedia

Associate Justice Samuel Alito was nominated by GOP President George W. Bush and took his seat January 31, 2006.

During his confirmation Alito said Roe V Wade  was an "important precedent of the Supreme Court," The Washington Post reported.

However, Alito stopped short of calling the ruling settled law. Alito has previously written a 1985 cover letter where opposed abortion.

Clarence Thomas

Justice Clarence Thomas
Wikipedia

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court by GOP President George H.W.  Bush and took his seat on October 23, 1991.

During his confirmation hearing, he refused to state his opinion on abortion and if Roe v Wade was properly decided, saying it would compromise his ability to impartially rule on similar cases.

"I think those of us who have become judges understand that we have to begin to shed the personal opinions that we have. We tend not to express strong opinions so that we are able to, without the burden or without being burdened by those opinions, rule impartially on cases," he said, according to NPR.

 

 

Sonia Sotomayor

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor sits during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021.
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor sits during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021.Erin Schaff/AFP/Getty Images

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor was nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama and took her seat on August 8, 2009.

During her confirmation hearing, Sotomayor said the ruling was "precedent and settled."

 

Stephen Breyer

stephen breyer
Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer sits during a group photo at the Supreme Court on April 23, 2021.Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP

Associate Justice Stephen Breyer was nominated by Democratic President Bill Clinton and took his seat August 3, 1994.

During his confirmation hearing, said he believed that the 1973 ruling "is settled law."

"Roe v Wade is the law of this country at least for more than 20 years," Breyer said in 1994.

 

Elena Kagan

Justice Elena Kagan
Justice Elena KaganErin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Associate Justice Elena Kagan was nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama and took her seat on August 7, 2010.

Kagan also described the landmark decision as settled law.

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