Kavanaugh calls Roe ruling 'important precedent'

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says a 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to an abortion is an "important precedent" that has "been reaffirmed many times."

Addressing the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Kavanaugh said that the 1973 case "has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years, as you know."

Democrats have expressed concern that Kavanaugh would overturn or roll back the ruling, and two key Republican lawmakers — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have said that the issue could be significant in shaping their votes. Collins told reporters last month that Kavanaugh told her he viewed Roe as "settled" law.

In front of lawmakers for the second day of his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh said he understood the importance of the case.

"I don't live in a bubble, I understand, I live in the real world. I understand the importance of the issue," Kavanaugh said. He said that the Supreme Court's ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey added force to the court's legal reasoning. It was "precedent on precedent," he said.

"The Supreme Court didn't just reaffirm it in passing," he said.

Feinstein's office expressed skepticism of Kavanaugh's statements in a tweet posted during the hearing.

"Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Gorsuch used the same playbook," the tweet said. "We can't accept vague promises from Brett Kavanaugh when women's reproductive freedom is at stake."

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