Kavanaugh on Roe v. Wade: 'I don't live in a bubble'

Abortion rights took center stage at Wednesday’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., pressing him about whether he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if appointed.

After Kavanaugh testified that he respected Supreme Court precedent that has kept abortion legal in the United States, Feinstein cited estimates for the number of women who died from illegal abortions in the decades before the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.

President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of his confirmation hearings. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“I don’t want to go back to those death tolls in this country,” Feinstein said. “And I truly believe that women should be able to control their own reproductive systems.”

“I understand your point of view on that, senator, and I understand how passionate and how deeply people feel about this issue,” Kavanaugh said, adding, “I don’t live in a bubble. I live in the real world.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, questions Kavanaugh as he testifies before the committee. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

At issue is whether Kavanaugh’s respect for precedent would keep him from casting a vote to strike down Roe, as many Democrats suspect he would.

The questioning on the subject of abortion, as Feinstein noted, followed a familiar script that nominees to the high court and their interrogators have followed for decades.

“What would you say your position is today on a woman’s right to choose?” Feinstein asked in an attempt to glean how Kavanaugh might rule in cases that could redefine Roe. 

“As a judge it is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. By ‘it,’ I mean Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, been reaffirmed many times. Casey is precedent on precedent,” Kavanaugh replied in a way that left Feinstein’s underlying question unanswered. 

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