President Donald Trump’s US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in 2006 signed on to an advertisement in an Indiana newspaper calling for the landmark 1973 ruling that legalised abortion nationwide to be overturned, a stance certain to be scrutinised during her upcoming Senate confirmation hearings.
Her participation in the ad published in the South Bend Tribune, first reported on Thursday by the Guardian newspaper, appears to be the most direct expression of Barrett’s opposition to abortion and is sure to intensify debate that she would vote to restrict, if not overturn, abortion rights if she is confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Barrett and her husband, a former federal prosecutor, were among more than 1,200 people who lent their names to the ad, which called the Roe vs Wade decision “an exercise of raw judicial power”.
“It’s time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade and restore law that protects the lives of unborn children,” the advertisement, purchased by an anti-abortion organisation called St Joseph County Right to Life, stated.
Barrett, who on Thursday continued with a series of meetings with individual senators ahead of Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings due to start on October 12, declined to answer questions about the ad.
White House spokesman Judd Deere told the Associated Press news agency that Barrett had already distinguished her personal views from her responsibility as a judge.
“As Judge Barrett said on the day she was nominated: ‘A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold’,” Deere said in an email.
Democratic committee members can be expected to press her on the issue.
Trump, who in January addressed an anti-abortion rally in Washington and said: “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House,” promised during the 2016 presidential race to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the Roe vs Wade ruling, which made abortion legal across the US.
Trump has called on the Senate to confirm Barrett to replace the late-liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a defender of abortion rights, before the presidential election on November 3.
During Tuesday’s presidential debate, Trump objected when his Democratic challenger Joe Biden said the fate of Roe vs Wade was “on the ballot” in the election.
Trump told Biden: “You don’t know her view on Roe vs Wade”.
A Catholic who earned a law degree and taught at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic institution in South Bend, Barrett is a favourite of religious conservatives. She was a law professor at Notre Dame at the time of the ad.
Overturning the ruling has been a long-standing goal of US religious conservatives. The ruling recognised that a constitutional right to personal privacy protects a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.
The court in 1992 reaffirmed the ruling and prohibited laws that place an “undue burden” on obtaining an abortion. Conservative opponents of the ruling have argued that the case was wrongly decided.