It used to be that a nominee to the Supreme Court couldn’t be based,
argued Democratic members of Congress, on a ‘litmus test’ of abortion.
Now that they’re in control, that’s the only test.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has made that most clear.

Some Democratic senators, including Dianne Feinstein,
D-Calif., sought answers this week on Sotomayor’s commitment to privacy
rights. Meanwhile, activists on both sides of the debate continue to
press senators to grill the nominee on her views of 1973’s Roe v. Wade,
which made abortion legal nationwide, during upcoming confirmation
hearings…

Since her nomination by President Obama last week, Sotomayor’s scant
record on abortion has brought to the fore assumptions about the White
House vetting process and questions about how Sotomayor might
ultimately vote on disputes over a woman’s right to end a pregnancy.

Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said after
meeting with Sotomayor this week that she believes Sotomayor generally
would respect precedent.

Translation: she would uphold Roe v. Wade, crafted as it was by
Justice Harry Blackmun, which abortion activists insist is ’settled
law’.

On Wednesday, Feinstein explained why she will persist
on the abortion rights question: “I remember what it was like when
abortion was illegal, and the lives of young desperate women were in
jeopardy.” She said she worries that “Americans no longer appreciate
what it would mean if (abortion rights) were taken away.”

Nominees usually elude such questions during their hearings.

“I don’t have concerns about this nominee in the sense that I think
there is something on the record (against abortion rights),” says Nancy
Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We just
think it’s important for Supreme Court nominees to say where they
stand.”

This did not used to be the case. Now, it’s all about that.

Said Northup of Sotomayor: “Her religious background
doesn’t give me pause. I am quite aware that people’s religious views
and their application of the law can be quite different.”

Interesting. When John Roberts and Samuel Alito made the fourth and
fifth Catholic Supreme Court justices named to the bench, detractors
railed about their religion. With Sotomayor’s nomination, her
Catholicisim is no big deal. Why the double-standards?

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....