The Justices And Abortion

April 23, 1992

Strongest supporters of abortion rights: Justice Harry A. Blackmun, 83...author of Roe vs. Wade...Current position: Abortion is a fundamental right, and no restriction may be imposed unless necessary to uphold a "compelling" official goal.

Justice John Paul Stevens, 72...abortion is a fundamental right, and most restrictions would be unconstitutional unless necessary to a "compelling" official goal.

Only partly in favor:

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, 62...abortion is a "limited" fundamental right, and restrictions that put an "undue burden" on that right are unconstitutional unless necessary to a "compelling" official goal; if they do not impose an "undue burden," they are valid if "rational."

Significantly opposed:

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, 67, and Justice Byron R. White, 74...only dissenters in Roe vs. Wade... Current position: the Constitution allows states to pass any law that is "reasonable" and that helps achieve some "legitimate" official goal -- including protecting fetuses throughout pregnancy.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, 55...The Constitution allows states pass any "reasonable" laws keyed to a "legitimate" official goal -- including protecting fetuses throughout pregnancy.

Totally opposed:

Justice Antonin Scalia, 56...Roe vs. Wade should be overruled completely and without delay.

Position unknown:

Justice David H. Souter, 52...no public position as a judge on Roe vs. Wade or abortion rights...told Senate Judiciary Committee he beieves in "marital privacy"...as a state legal officer, wrote legal briefs critical of Roe.

Justice Clarence Thomas, 43...no public position as a judge on Roe or abortion rights...told senators last year he favors "marital privacy"...as a federal government official, praised legal article arguing that fetuses have a constitutional right to life from the moment of conception.

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