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HomeWorldSupreme Court justices on abortion, during confirmation and from the bench

Supreme Court justices on abortion, during confirmation and from the bench

As nominees, prospective jurists are typically circumspect about their leanings on an array of topics, perhaps none more so than abortion. Oftentimes they demur on questions raised by senators during the multi-day confirmation hearings by stating the need to not prejudge issues that may come before the court while vowing to keep an open mind.

Members of both political parties grumble about this practice, as it allows nominees to avoid giving revealing answers to sensitive questions — even when their prior writings and public statements point to strongly held beliefs in certain areas of the law.

The televised confirmation hearings also provide some of the most enduring images of a Supreme Court justice, given that the court has long been resistant to allowing cameras to capture proceedings. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the court to make some concessions to modernity; this term it has made available a live audio feed of arguments.

Justices’ comments during oral arguments are by no means determinative. Still, their remarks are closely parsed by reporters and legal observers for indications of which way they will ultimately come down on a case.

Here are some excerpts of the nine sitting justices from their Senate confirmation hearings and Wednesday’s oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.


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