The federal appeals court judge was asked at her confirmation hearing Tuesday to state how she felt about the landmark Roe versus Wade ruling legalizing abortion in 1973.
Sotomayor told the Senate Judiciary Committee that "there is a right of privacy. The court has found it in various places in the Constitution." She said this right is stated in the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure and in the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection of the law. She declined to say pointblank if she agreed with the high court's precedent on this volatile issue.
Sotomayor said she believes that decision is settled precedent that was reaffirmed by the High Court in the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision that struck down a Pennsylvania statute that required married women notify her husband of her decision.
"The court's decision in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey reaffirmed the court holding of Roe. That is the precedent of the court and settled in terms of the holding of the court."
As is customary, Senators will not outright ask Sotomayor for her opinion about abortion and whether she believes in it. But Senators like Kohl are looking to gauge how the nominee feels about precedent set in previous hot button Supreme Court cases.
"As I said Casey reaffirmed the holding in Roe. That is the supreme court's settled interpretation of what the core holding is and its reaffirmance of it."
Answering a question later from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Sotomayor said that "all precedents of the Supreme Court I consider settled law," subject to the possibility of subsequent reversal, such as when the court last month renounced a previous precedent in a reverse discrimination case. It ruled 5-4 on the side of white firefighters from New Haven, Conn., who challenged a decision by the city to discard the results of an employee test in which they fared better than minorities who took the examination.