Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Monday during the confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, that Roe v. Wade is now a “super precedent” that cannot be changed.
Feinstein argued that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, is “settled law” and could not be overturned by the Supreme Court in the future.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld Roe’s court finding, making it settled law for the last 44 years,” she said, citing 14 cases where the high court upheld the “core holding” of Roe and 39 decisions that have “reaffirmed” Roe.
“If these judgments when combined do not constitute super precedent, I don’t know what does,” she said. The doctrine of stare decisis is one in which courts adhere to previous rulings. The notion of “super stare decisis” or “super precedent” suggests that some cases are immune to being overturned.
The California Democrat also argued that the Supreme Court “has the final say over whether a woman will continue to have control over her own body.”
She objected to Gorsuch’s written position that “the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.” Feinstein claimed that Gorsuch’s “language has been interpreted by both pro-life and pro-choice organizations to mean he would overturn Roe.”
Gorsuch has never ruled on abortion, although pro-life groups point to his decisions on religious liberty cases as evidence he will support their cause. Pro-choice groups have condemned Gorsuch’s conservative record.
Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy left on the Supreme Court by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia early last year.