Obama’s Supreme Court choice worries abortion advocates

04 Jun 2009

By The Record

Obama nominates New York Latina to Supreme Court.

WASHINGTON (CNS) – President Barack Obama has nominated federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court; if she is confirmed, the New York native of Puerto Rican descent would become the first Hispanic to serve on the high court.
Obama announced his choice of Sotomayor at the White House on May 26. If confirmed by the Senate, she would join the court when the next term opens in October, replacing retiring Justice David Souter.
Sotomayor has been a judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1998, nominated to that post by President Bill Clinton. Before that she spent six years as a US District Court judge in New York, nominated to that position by President George HW Bush in 1991. Although some critics of Obama were quick to decry Sotomayor as “a liberal activist,” her judicial record does not reflect that approach on issues including religious liberty and restrictions on federal funds being used for abortion. In a 2002 case challenging the Mexico City policy, Sotomayor upheld the government’s right to prohibit the use of US foreign aid funds in overseas family planning programs that provide or refer for abortions.
“The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favour the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds,” she wrote in a decision on the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v Bush. Obama reversed that policy shortly after taking office in January.
The New York Times reported on May 27 that some abortion rights advocates are quietly expressing unease that Judge Sotomayor may not be a reliable vote to uphold Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision. In a letter, president of Naral Pro-Choice America Nancy Keenan urged supporters to press senators to demand that Judge Sotomayor reveal her views on privacy rights before any confirmation vote. “Discussion about Roe v Wade will — and must — be part of this nomination process,” Ms Keenan wrote. “As you know, choice hangs in the balance on the Supreme Court as the last two major choice-related cases were decided by a 5-to-4 margin.”