SCOTUS double-speaking on Roe: Does it matter?

This Vox article analyzes the nuanced language that Kavanaugh will probably use in his hearings: “Roe is settled law,” etc.

Does it really matter, though? It doesn’t matter what he says in Senate hearings; if he holds pro-life views deep down, then he’ll vote against abortion when he’s on the bench. Forcing him to say certain words during his hearings won’t change his future SCOTUS decisions - he could even outright lie (“I will not vote to overturn Roe”) and then vote to overturn Roe when the time comes. No SCOTUS justice has ever been impeached for behaving differently as a justice than he/she indicated he/she would during hearings. Furthermore, few if any pro-choicers would believe Kavanaugh if he said he wouldn’t overturn Roe.
And at the end of the day it will be a party-line vote anyway; nearly all Democrats (except perhaps Heitkamp, Donnelly, etc.) will vote against him - no matter what he says or does - and likely all Republicans will vote for him - and he’ll end up passing 53-47 or something similar.
So is it really necessary to do this song and dance? The Vox author is concerned that Kavanaugh will try to slip by with weasel words, but even if he didn’t weasel, the vote would still be much the same and his future SCOTUS decisions would be unchanged.

No but it could be used as an excuse to impeach one. I know they do not need any reason to impeach but in reality they need some casus belli for an impeachment and I think that could suffice.

Being televised, the hearings are almost entirely about political posturing by the Senators. So yeah, they still have to happen. Gotta get that note of outrage or support into the news cycle, and banked for potential use in the next campaign.

This. Kamala Harris wants her 15 minutes of fame.

isn’t it her turn?

Eh, they all do. This is definitely one of those things where “both sides do it” is undeniably valid.

Agreed. I mentioned her specifically because she is, I believe, the only committee member that is anticipated to run for president in 2020.

I think you are correct - it doesn’t matter what he says.

Anything he says, no matter what, will be interpreted by the pro-abortion side as saying “I am going to overturn Roe v. Wade at the first opportunity”. They need to stir up their base. The mid-terms are coming.

The model will be like it was with Ted Kennedy and Bob Bork. Ask a loaded question, ignore the answer, ask another loaded question, ignore the answer, vote against him.


That pretty much follows from his presence on the Heritage Foundation list that Trump chose him from.

You neglect to observe that Kennedy was right about Bork.

The bothsidesism in this thread is saddening.

I can’t tell if you are using “stir up their base” as a bad, good or neutral thing. An observation or a judgement?

I think they all pretty much know (99.9% of the way) how they are going to vote. Is it any surprise that Senators turn the televised hearings into an electioneering platform?

I personally would believe Kavanaugh is he said “I won’t overturn Roe.” I don’t think any conservative judge is going to do that at this point. Instead, they will just uphold laws that place as many obstacles as possible in the way of any woman who actually tries to use her rights.

Overturning Roe would outrage a lot of people and swing their votes to the Democrats. And overturning Roe would satisfy Pro-Life voters and remove their motivation to continue voting for Republicans. Opposition to Roe is the reason why a lot of Christians were able to hold their noses and vote for somebody like Trump.

As others have said, the hearings are essentially political posturing. As long as Kavanaugh doesn’t screw up and say something stupid, he’ll be confirmed. The Senators on both sides are just signalling to their base. The Republicans are telling their base that they’re nominating pro-life judges and the Democrats are telling their base that they oppose the nomination of pro-life judges.

What would overturning Roe actually mean? Going back to the 70’s and forcing her to have her baby?

Roe won’t be overturned. What will happen is that laws, much like the ones that were rendered unconstitutional by the Roe vs Wade decision will be made by states. With Roe as settled law, lawmakers wouldn’t do this, because they would know that the laws would be overturned.

SCOTUS would take on one of these new laws, as it works its way up the system, and render their verdict on its constitutionality. Roe vs Wade need not be overturned in order to remove a woman’s choice in her medical care.

This seems impossible to me. We’re assured over and over that conservative justices strictly call balls and strikes using settled law and the constitution. They don’t go with what they wish the law were.

Can you please point out someone in power who is “pro-abortion”? Or, did you mean pro-choice? I guess you would also describe pro-life folks as anti-choice or anti-women’s-health or pro-putting-government-between-a-woman-and-her-doctor.

I wouldn’t do that – I call them pro-life, even when they are also for capital punishment, for example, since that’s what they want to be called. It’s well-poisoning and rude to call them anti-woman, just like it’s well-poisoning and rude to call pro-choice people “pro-abortion”.

I guess you made a typo or something and will be back shortly to apologize to those of us who are pro-choice.

Yes, “reconsidered” is probably a more appropriate word, but as far as Joe Lunchpail and Sally Soapopera are concerned, what you describe - giving the decision back to the states (and which Clarence Thomas suggests should happen, pretty much every chance he gets) - is what “overturn Roe” means.

I have a feeling he won’t vote to reconsider Roe, but he will be on the anti-abortion side for third-trimester procedures such as partial birth abortion.

If you mean “Jane Roe” she was forced to have the baby.

What I meant (without getting into a pointless argument of legal terminology) would be the Supreme Court saying that the decision reached in Roe v Wade is no longer valid. The impact would depend on how this new decision was written.

They might simply hand it back to the states and let each state decide if it wanted abortions to be legal or illegal. Or the Supreme Court could go further and decide that foetuses have a right to life and abortions are illegal throughout the country.

It’s an observation.

No, it isn’t any surprise at all. The mid-terms are coming.

“It is vitally important that everybody vote in 2018, because we need to take over/retain control of the Senate to keep out/appoint extreme far-right fanatics who will force women into the Stone Age/sober and serious centrists who respect the Constitution and won’t make up stuff about penumbrae and emanations”.

Both sides do it.


That the Democrats would take the House, Senate and would be more likely to take the Presidency. It terms of national political strategy it would be a very bad thing for the Republican party, even as it greatly pleased much of its base.

I agree, and I’ve said as much several times over the years. The Republicans are much better off, politically, with Roe in place, so they can use it as a campaign issue.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that by law or practice judges were not impeached for behavior prior to their taking the bench.

It doesn’t sound like a good idea to impeach a judge for changing his mind about a subject anyway. Not much point in arguing the cases if they have determined how they would rule ahead of time.

I doubt it will matter much anyway since nominees usually just say it’s settled law and refuse to answer more detailed questions on cases that they say may come before the court.

Correct, it’s mostly been for corruption, except once for insanity.