Report: Alito Said Roe Was Settled Before Pushing to Overturn It

Report: Alito Said Roe Was Settled Before Pushing to Overturn It

The New York Times reported that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito assured the late Sen. Ted Kennedy seventeen years ago that he considered a key legal basis for Roe v. Wade to be “settled.”  

 

The New York Times on Monday reported that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito assured the late Sen. Ted Kennedy seventeen years ago that he considered a key legal basis for Roe v. Wade to be “settled.”

This past summer, however, Alito wrote the majority opinion overturning Roe, the 1973 landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion.

 

“I am a believer in precedents,” Alito told Kennedy, per the Massachusetts Democratic senator’s diary entry in November 2005.

“I believe that there is a right to privacy. I think it’s settled as part of the liberty clause of the 14th Amendment and the Fifth Amendment. So I recognize there is a right to privacy. I’m a believer in precedents. I think on the Roe case that’s about as far as I can go,” he continued.

According to the Times, Alito’s remarks were made as he was seeking Senate confirmation to the court during a visit to Kennedy’s office.

In June, Alito had a decidedly different take on Roe, writing that “it was egregiously wrong from the start.”

“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,” he continued.

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

In the roughly four months since the court struck down Roe, sixty-six clinics across fifteen states have stopped providing abortion procedures, according to a Politico report earlier this month. The fourteen states where abortions are almost entirely unavailable are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Abortion access is significantly limited in a fifteenth state, Georgia, where the procedure is allowed until the detection of fetal cardiac activity, generally occurring around the sixth week of pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a bill last month that would prohibit abortion nationally after fifteen weeks. Called the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act, the legislation includes exceptions for abortions that are necessary to save the life of the mother or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. It would also not affect state laws that are already more restrictive.

In June, Graham called the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe a “long overdue constitutional correction allowing the officials in the states to decide issues of life.”

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.