Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand is calling for a congressional investigation of Supreme Court justices following the leaked draft of a majority decision that indicated the high court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The landmark 1973 court ruling, which has been challenged and upheld several times, established a constitutional right to abortion.
Gillibrand questioned the authenticity of statements made during Senate confirmation hearings for justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch — the most recently seated justices and reportedly among the five justices signing the draft decision.
Gillibrand accused the three justices of lying about their position on Roe v. Wade.
“Every single one of them said they would not undermine precedent. They all lied,” Gillibrand said during a video news conference with reporters on Thursday afternoon.
“We need to set the record straight. If the justices truly lied under oath, we need to know,” she said. “We cannot accept that Supreme Court justices can lie their way through the confirmation process.”
Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their confirmation hearings in 2017 and 2018, respectively, that Roe v. Wade was precedent, which in the Supreme Court is seldom overturned. Gorsuch called the Roe v. Wade decision an “anchor of law,” while Kavanaugh said the decision was settled. Barrett, in her 2020 confirmation hearing, declined to take a position on Roe v. Wade.
The draft was leaked to and reported on late Monday by Politico, a news organization that covers politics and policy. Initial reports could not confirm the authenticity of the draft. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. later confirmed the draft’s authenticity and called for an investigation into the leak.
The Supreme Court stressed that the draft does not represent a decision by the court or the final position of its justices.
Sometimes draft rulings can be revised in the final months as justices weigh in during the writing process.
According to Politico, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a draft in February that said the abortion ruling was “egregiously wrong” and should be overturned completely. The draft was also signed, according to Politico, by Justice Clarence Thomas, who has said for years that Roe should be overturned, and Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, the latter three appointees of President Donald J. Trump.
The draft’s opinion, Gillibrand said, shows “how politicized the court has become.”
“We must find ways to depoliticize the court,” she said.
Gillibrand said the investigation should be conducted by the House of Representatives. She said it would be up to the House to decide if the Supreme Court justices would be called to testify, and then up to the justices to do so.
“At some point I hope we have hearings because I don’t know how you can accept Supreme Court justices who lied in order to be confirmed,” Gillibrand said. “That is absolutely fraud and there should be consequences.”
Gillibrand, immediately after the content of the leaked draft was reported, called on Congress to pass a law allowing the right to an abortion. She also called on states to enact strong abortion-rights legislation.
Tribune News Service contributed to this report.