Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Sep 13, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

John Roberts and the Right to Privacy

Chief Justice nominee John G. Roberts suprised many today with his comments on the rights of privacy and choice, reports the AP’s Jesse J. Holland.

Supreme Court nominee John Roberts said Tuesday that the landmark 1973 ruling legalizing abortion was “settled as a precedent,” as he was immediately pressed to address the divisive issue on the second day of his confirmation hearings.

“It’s settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis,” the concept that long-established rulings should be given extra weight, Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Questioned about rights of privacy, the appellate judge cited several amendments in the Bill of Rights and said, “I do think the right to privacy is protected under the Constitution in various ways.”


Troy Newman, leader of Operation: Rescue, said anti-abortion activists weren’t surprised by Roberts’ comments but would watch him closely.

“We’re concerned about these statements, but the proof will come when it’s time for him to rule on these cases as a justice,” Newman said.

I think Newman and the anti-abortion lobby are correct in their assessment of Roberts’ views in this way: although Roberts’ statements should give pause to those on the left adamant on opposing him regardless of what the hearings expose, the fact remains that Judge Roberts is by no means bound by the comments made in his appearance before the committee today. That is to say, if confirmed, he can rule however he wants to.

[Update 12:21 PM Pacific]: Roberts sounds a bit stronger on the issue of privacy than he did this morning. From National Journal‘s Mark Ambinder:

“I agree with the Griswold court’s conclusion that marital privacy…extends to contraception.”

for more coverage of the Roberts hearings, check out my blog at