Will Sonia Sotomayor Be Pro-Choice? Looks Like Maybe Not.

We think it’s pretty dope that Sonia Sotomayor, Obama’s pick for Supreme Court justice, is (a) a lady and (b) could the first person of Hispanic descent to don Supreme Court robes. But many pro-choice advocates are sounding alarm bells today because they have a sneaking suspicion that, once on the bench, Sotomayor may not uphold Roe v. Wade, something they think should be a “no duh” for a judge appointed by a pro-choice president. What’s got them worried, after the jump… [NY Times]

  • Sotomayor may have been a federal appeals court judge for almost eleven years, but (magically) her opinion on abortion has never been revealed. None of her cases have dealt with the legal theory behind Roe v. Wade—that the Constitution protects a woman’s privacy in reproductive decisions. So basically, on this issue, she’s a wild card.
  • In a 2002 case, Sotomayor wrote an opinion that said, “The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds.” Translation: she upheld the Bush administration’s policy of withholding aid from international groups that provide or promote abortion services overseas.
  • Two years later, Sotomayor sided with anti-abortion protesters in a case where they were suing police officers for using excessive force to break up an abortion clinic demonstration. Again, this decision doesn’t mean she agrees with them—after all, it’s pretty clear that the Constitution protects protestors—but it’s still raised a few eyebrows.
  • In 2007, Sotomayor stood up for Chinese women who were seeking asylum in the United because of China’s harsh population-control policies (ahem, forcible abortions and birth control). Sotomayor said, “The termination of a wanted pregnancy under a coercive population control program can only be devastating to any couple, akin, no doubt, to the killing of a child.” Then in 2008, she wrote an opinion supporting a woman who worked in an abortion clinic in China who committed a “crime” in letting a woman who was seven-months pregnant escape her scheduled forced abortion. Now, no one thinks China’s population control policies are cool. But the words “the killing of a child” are pretty strong.
  • Sotomayor was raised Roman Catholic, but it’s unknown whether she’s with the church on abortion.

For all these reasons, pro-choice advocates are asking Sotomayor to clarify her views on abortion before a confirmation vote is made. Since Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, her beliefs will effect all of us for years to come. What do you think? Should she be forced to say?