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Liberals Concerned About Sotomayor's Abortion Views

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
While it so far appears Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will have a relatively smooth confirmation process, some liberal activists are just as jittery as their conservative counterparts about Sotomayor's stance on key wedge issues like abortion.

Pro-abortion rights groups are concerned about the fact that Sotomayor's judicial record does not reveal much about her position on abortion rights or the right to privacy. Not once in her 11 years as a federal appeals court judge has Sotomayor addressed the issue of abortion rights directly -- though in related cases, she has sided with both pro-abortion rights groups and anti-abortion rights groups.

"We simply don't know Judge Sotomayor's view on the bedrock constitutional case of Roe v. Wade," Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told CBS News Supreme Court correspondent Wyatt Andrews on Wednesday night.

Northup's organization sent an e-mail to its supporters, urging them to pressure the Senate to get answers from Sotomayor on her views.

NARAL Pro-Choice America sent out a similar message, the New York Times reports.

"Discussion about Roe v. Wade will — and must — be part of this nomination process," Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, wrote in a letter to the group's supporters. "As you know, choice hangs in the balance on the Supreme Court as the last two major choice-related cases were decided by a 5-to-4 margin."

Sotomayor's related rulings do not necessarily indicate where she falls on the issue. For instance, she ruled for renewed consideration of asylum claims from Chinese immigrants battling deportation orders on the grounds that China's policy of forcing women to have abortions for the purpose of population-control amounts to persecution.

In her opinion for Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, Sotomayor denied a claim from an abortion rights group arguing that a Bush administration policy violated its First Amendment, due process, and equal protection rights. The "Mexico City Policy" prohibited foreign organizations receiving U.S. funds from performing or supporting abortions. In her opinion, she said the government "is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position" with public funds.

White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday Mr. Obama did not ask Sotomayor specifically about her position on abortion.

"What we know about her we like, but I don't know the answer on abortion rights," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Liberal concerns with Sotomayor's views extend beyond the issue of abortion.

Kevin Cathcart, executive director of the gay advocacy group Lambda Legal, is also asking the Senate to carefully scrutinize Sotomayor's record, the Politico reports, as other liberal activists weigh in as well.

"She is a mixed bag," Marjorie Cohn, president of the progressive National Lawyers Guild, said in an interview on Air America. "I'm thrilled that there will be the first Latina on the Supreme Court and that there will be another woman. But I really would have liked to have seen a real progressive counterweight to radical rightists on the court."