Did SCOTUS judges lie about Roe v. Wade — or just use 'careful lawyerly phrasing'?

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

Brett Kavanaugh.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week that, as a nominee, Justice Brett Kavanaugh had assured that he wouldn't vote to overturn the landmark decision that had protected abortion rights for 50 years. Collins said Kavanaugh insisted he was not a threat to Roe, saying, "I am a don't-rock-the-boat kind of judge." Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said after the ruling that Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch both gave misleading statements under oath during their confirmation hearings, emphasizing that the landmark decision was established law under "stare decisis," the legal principle of following precedents — particularly those that have been reaffirmed in subsequent decisions, as Roe had.

In a closely divided Senate, the votes of Collins, a moderate Republican, and Manchin, a moderate Democrat, were critical in the 50-48 July 2018 vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said that if Kavanaugh and other new justices lied about their intentions on Roe — under oath — to win confirmation, lawmakers should "seriously" consider impeaching them. Dan Urman, director of the Law and Public Policy Minor at Northeastern, said nothing the justices said amounted to perjury, and, if anything, their "careful lawyerly phrasing" suggested they "were prepared to overturn Roe." "If they were not, then they could have given a more direct and less careful answer," Urman says in News@Northeastern. Did the justices join the court planning to overturn Roe, and lie about it?

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of TheWeek.com when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.