Confirm Souter

September 19, 1990

Like most committed supporters of abortion rights, we would have been reassured to see Judge David Souter state unequivocally that he would vote to uphold Roe vs. Wade, the basis of abortion rights. But that of course was a wholly unreasonable expectation and, indeed, had Souter so stated, it's quite likely President Bush would have reacted by withdrawing his nomination.

So while we share the anxiety of women's groups which are still opposing Souter's nomination because he will not take an unequivocal stand on Roe vs. Wade, we believe, based on his three days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, that Souter is far and away the best nominee that we can reasonably expect from a president who is committed to curtailing access to abortion. Accordingly, we hope the Senate will confirm Souter.

It is noteworthy that conservatives are even more alarmed over Souter's testimony than liberals and moderates. Especially significant was his stanch recognition that a right of privacy does lie in the Constitution -- a position which the conservative hero Robert Bork adamantly rejected. Equally important was Souter's embrace of the 1965 Supreme Court decision in Griswold vs. Connecticut, establishing the right of access to birth control devices, which became the precedent for Roe vs. Wade.

But above all, the most reassuring words Souter spoke during his testimony indicated his awareness, stated with sincerity and humility, that a judge must never forget that "at the end of our task, some human being is going to be affected, some human life is going to be changed in some way by what we do."

That statement reflects the "judicial temperament" that most Americans would like to see on the Supreme Court.

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