Sen. Hawley refuses to support any Supreme Court nominee who won’t publicly say Roe v. Wade was ‘wrongly decided’

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Sen. Josh Hawley said Sunday he’ll not support any future Supreme Court nominees if they fail to repudiate the high court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision overturning statewide abortion bans that were in place at the time.

Hawley, a Missouri Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he wants to hear nominees state publicly during confirmation hearings that they believe the decision legalizing abortions was “wrongly decided.”

“I will vote only for those Supreme Court nominees who have explicitly acknowledged that Roe v. Wade is wrongly decided,” Hawley told The Washington Post. “By explicitly acknowledged, I mean on the record and before they were nominated.

“I don’t want private assurances from candidates. I don’t want to hear about their personal views, one way or another,” Hawley, 40, added.

“I’m not looking for forecasts about how they may vote in the future or predications. I don’t want any of that. I want to see on the record, as part of their record, that they have acknowledged in some forum that Roe v. Wade, as a legal matter, is wrongly decided,” he noted further.

Hawley’s requirement comes as the possibility looms larger in the coming months that President Donald Trump could have an opportunity to name a third justice to the country’s highest court.

His demand also comes as conservatives appear ready to push to change the Supreme Court’s precedents regarding the controversial procedure, though in recent rulings, they have been disappointed — particularly by Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.

Last month, for instance, Roberts joined the court’s liberals a 5-4 ruling in which the high court tossed a Louisiana law that required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice.

The state law was intended to provide an extra measure of health and safety for women receiving an abortion, but the court rule the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act “imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons.”

That said, Roberts wrote in a footnote to the decision that the “validity of admitting privileges law depend[s] on numerous factors that may differ from state to state,” giving some hope to pro-lifers that adjustments to state laws requiring the privileges could be tweaked to pass constitutional muster.”

As for the high court’s potential vacancies, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 87 and has had a history of health problems, including several bouts with cancer, most recently this month.

Also, conservatives and some White House officials have been discussing the possibility that Justice Clarence Thomas, 72, one of the high court’s constitutional originalists, may retire soon, the Post reported.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), blocked President Barack Obama’s third nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, in 2016 from even getting a confirmation hearing, let alone a vote, saying at the time that the next president should make the choice.

He has said in recent months, however, he would push through any Supreme Court nominee by President Trump this year, should a vacancy occur, because the same political party controls the Senate and the White House.

Hawley, a former professor of law and a clerk for Roberts, told the Post, “Roe is central to judicial philosophy. Roe is and was an unbridled act of judicial imperialism. It marks the point the modern Supreme Court said, ‘You know, we don’t have to follow the Constitution. We won’t even pretend to try.’ ”

Some moderate Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is up for reelection in November and supports abortion rights, has said she won’t support a high court nominee who “demonstrates hostility” to the Roe v. Wade decision. And that could present a problem for Republicans since it’s unlikely any Democrats will support another Trump nominee.

“This standard, for me, applies to Supreme Court nominees, whether they’re a sitting judge or whatever,” Hawley said. “If there is no indication in their record that at any time they have acknowledged that Roe was wrong at the time it was decided, then I’m not going to vote for them — and I don’t care who nominates them.”

The Missouri Republican also said he has had discussions regarding his point of view with the president and senior White House officials, but did not discuss details with the Post.

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Jon Dougherty

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