Settle this matter

October 01, 1991

Despite the split Senate Judiciary Committee vote on his nomination, Clarence Thomas no doubt will be approved by the full Senate this week to take a seat on the Supreme Court.

He will join the court, needless to say, with no one knowing how he will vote on the most controversial social issue of our time -- the right of a woman to obtain a safe, legal and inexpensive abortion. Thomas, no doubt, knows how he will vote, but no one else does.

But suppose, for the sake of argument, that Thomas next year turns out to provide the vote which is so widely believed to be necessary to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. And suppose, then, that the next justice who retires happens to be among those who voted to overturn Roe, thereby throwing the matter back to the states.

Does it not stand to reason that in choosing a replacement for that justice, one might be picked who would once more restore Roe vs. Wade as the law of the land?

A basic function of law is to assure stability and reliability. We cannot have the Supreme Court see-sawing on Roe vs. Wade into perpetuity. This issue must be settled once and for all.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote on the Thomas nomination in the Senate this week, every future nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court should be obliged, as a condition for confirmation, to answer the question: Do you, or do you not, believe that a woman has a fundamental right to secure an abortion?

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