Sonia Sotomayor on Abortion
Government may spend public funds on its abortion position
Sotomayor ruled against an abortion rights group in its challenge to the so-called "Mexico City Policy," which states that nations that receive U.S. funds may neither perform nor promote abortions.
The abortion rights advocates alleged that the policy violated their First Amendment, due process, and equal protection rights. Sotomayor upheld a lower court ruling dismissing the case, saying that the group's
First Amendment rights had not been violated and that it had not been denied due process. On the equal protection claim, Sotomayor wrote, "The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion
position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds." Sotomayor did not address the underlying abortion issue. (Center for Reproductive Law and Policy vs. Bush, 2002)
Source: CNN report on upcoming Sotomayor hearings
, Aug 1, 2009
Rejected abortion rights challenge to Mexico City Policy
Sotomayor wrote the opinion in Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, 2002, a challenge to the "Mexico City Policy," which prohibited foreign organizations receiving US funds from performing or supporting abortions. An abortion rights group
claimed that the policy violated its First Amendment, due process, and equal protection rights. Relying on the Second Circuit's earlier decision in Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. v. Agency for International Development, which dealt with a
virtually identical claim, Sotomayor's opinion rejected the group's First Amendment claim on the merits. Turning to the plaintiffs' due process claim, Sotomayor held that they lacked standing because they alleged only a harm to foreign organizations,
rather than themselves. On their equal protection claim, she ultimately held that the claim failed under rational basis review because the government "is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position" with public funds.
Source: ScotusBlog.com, "Civil Litigation"
, Jul 25, 2009
Precedents must be given deference in any situation
Q: When there are multiple precedents and a question arises, are all the previous decisions discarded, or should the court reexamine all the cases on point?
A: The health and welfare of a woman must be a compelling consideration. It has been a part of the court?s jurisprudence and a part of its precedents. Those precedents must be given deference in any situation that arises before the court.
Source: Confirmation Hearing, US Senate Judiciary Committee
, Jul 14, 2009
Page last updated: Jul 13, 2015