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Reflections on Day 3 of Sotomayor's Confirmation Hearings

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Yesterday, the questions from Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee continued during the Sotomayor’s Confirmation Hearings in Washington, DC. Judge Sotomayor was asked many questions about her views on abortion rights, based on cases such as Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.

Over the past few days, Judge Sotomayor has made it clear that she has a deep respect for precedent. She has not stated whether she personally identifies as pro-choice, however, she has repeatedly stated her respect for settled law–which demonstrated her support for the decision in Roe v. Wade. This decision legalized abortion as a ‘right to privacy’ that is described as a fundamental right in the U.S. Constitution.

In Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s 17 years of judicial experience, she has not had cases that dealt directly with a women’s right to choose.  Senator Cornyn asked for her position on abortion based on conversations with the White House. Judge Sotomayor stated that the White House did not ask her specifically about abortion rights during her interview and referred to her record for proof that she has followed the law on all legal issues.

Senator Cardin asked about her assessment on privacy rights and Senator Franken asked about the connection between the term “birth control” and privacy rights.  Judge Sotomayor explained that the right to privacy has been recognized in many different circumstances for more than 90 years and it is a right that is part of the Supreme Court’s precedent. She stated that she respects precedent as a framework for future decisions and that any review of precedent should be done very carefully by the courts.

Senator Coburn asked her the following question regarding abortion rights: “[Judge Sotomayor,] you said that Roe v. Wade is settled law. What is the state of abortion rights in America?” She responded that the court reaffirmed the decision of Roe v. Wade that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy and the case of Casey v. Planned Parenthood cemented the Roe ruling.

Throughout the hearing, Senators probed her on her position regarding cases supported by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF).  Sotomayor served on PRLDEF’s Board of Directors for 12 years.  One specific case related to Medicaid funding for abortion in Illinois. 


As stated in AFJ’s fact sheet, PRLDEF’s current president and general counsel confirmed that as a board member, Sotomayor “was not directly involved” in preparing litigation materials on behalf of the organization.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health will be viewing the hearings carefully to ensure that Judge Sotomayor and her legal perspectives address the critical issues that impact our lives.

Please stay tuned for more information from NLIRH as the hearings unfold, and visit our Guide to the Supreme Court for more information on the nomination, how the Supreme Court works, currently sitting Justices, and how a case gets to the Supreme Court.