Vice President Mike Pence would not give ground when badgered repeatedly by CNN’s Dana Bash about whether Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
In making his announcement at the White House Monday night, Trump said, “In keeping with President Reagan’s legacy, I do not ask about a nominee’s personal opinions.”
He continued, “What matters is not a judge’s political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require.”
Trump’s statement seemed to be a way to give cover for both moderate Senate Democrats (like Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana) and moderate Republicans (like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine) to vote for Kavanaugh.
In a Tuesday interview with Pence, CNN’s Bash clearly sought to cast doubt whether Kavanaugh would be a pro-life, overturn-Roe kind of Supreme Court justice.
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) July 10, 2018
She pointed out at Kavanaugh’s 2006 confirmation hearing for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that he described Roe as “settled law.”
“If confirmed to the D.C Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully,” Kavanaugh told then Senate Judiciary Committee member, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “That would be binding precedent on the court. It has been decided by the Supreme Court.”
When pressed by Schumer about his personal view, Kavanaugh declined to answer, perhaps anticipating he may one day be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court and did not want to be bound by his answer.
Many Supreme Court nominees — from both Democrat and Republican presidents — have declined to give their personal views on matters that might come before them on the bench.
It’s been called the Ginsburg Rule, promulgated by then Senate Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden during Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s confirmation hearing in 1993. She was confirmed 93-3, by the way, despite her very liberal record as an American Civil Liberties Union litigator.
Bash reminded Pence that he has said on multiple occasions that Roe should be assigned to the “ash heap of history.”
“Are you worried, (Kavanaugh) is not going to follow what you want to do?” the CNN reporter asked.
“I’m pro-life and I don’t apologize for it,” the vice president responded. “I’m proud to be part of a pro-life administration that’s advanced pro-life policies.”
He continued, “But what I can assure you is that what the president was looking for here was a nominee who will respect the Constitution as written, who will faithfully uphold the Constitution and all of his interpretations of the law.”
Asked if he still wanted Roe to be overturned, Pence replied, “Well, I do, but I haven’t been nominated to the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh has.”
Pence stated that neither he, nor the president asked the judge about the issue, but focused on his judicial philosophy.
Trump promised to nominate pro-life judges during the campaign and released a list of originalist and textualist judges from which he promised to pick his Supreme Court nominees.
The list was formulated primarily with the help of the conservative Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.
Bash would not let the issue go, asking for an assurance for Trump’s supporters that Kavanaugh will rule to overturn Roe.
Obviously, neither Pence nor Trump could ever make such an assurance because no president knows what nominees will do once they take their place on the bench.
Pence answered Bash’s question, “What I can assure people is this will continue to be a pro-life administration.”
In May, Trump became the first sitting president to attend the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign of Life gala.
In introducing him at the gala, the group’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, said, “President Trump has done everything in his power to protect unborn children and their mothers and get American taxpayers out of the abortion business.”
“True to his word, he is governing as the most pro-life president our nation has ever seen,” Dannenfelser added in a statement released after the event. “He has been a fighter and a champion for unborn children, their mothers, and pro-life taxpayers, and his administration has made unprecedented gains for life.”
Dannenfelser approved of Trump’s choice of Kavanaugh, stating earlier this week, “President Trump has made another outstanding choice in nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, keeping his promise to nominate only originalist judges to the Court. Judge Kavanaugh is an experienced, principled jurist with a strong record of protecting life and constitutional rights.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, also gave an approving nod writing in a Twitter post that “President Trump promised a constitutionalist – someone who will call balls and strikes according to the Constitution. Judge Kavanaugh has a long & praiseworthy history of judging as an originalist.”
Douglas Johnson, senior policy adviser to National Right to Life, is also on board: “Judge Kavanaugh’s record, viewed as a whole, indicates a willingness to enforce the rights truly based on the text and history of the Constitution, while otherwise leaving policymaking in the hands of elected legislators.”
Bash may have been trying to use her Pence interview to weaken support for Trump’s nominee, but pro-life groups and many other conservatives who have looked at the Kavanaugh’s record are giving him an enthusiastic thumbs up.
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