Bush-era memo reveals Kavanaugh argued he's 'not sure' scholars consider Roe v. Wade 'settled law'

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ABOUT: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced new scrutiny Thursday over a leaked memo where he appeared to question the argument that landmark Roe v.Wade ruling was widely considered 'settled law.' His comments are contained in a 2003 email chain where he was advising the Bush White House about the conservative nominee Priscilla Owen and providing comments on an op-ed.The article contained a blanket statement about the abortion rights decision that Kavanaugh, who faced his third day of grilling at a confirmation hearing Thursday, took exception to.'I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so,' Kavanaugh wrote.Both abortion rights advocates and opponents place enormous stock in what potential justices say about 'settled law' on the topic, as a barometer of whether they would vote to overturn the the privacy-based ruling that protects a woman's right to an abortion.Sen.Susan Collins of Maine, one of two key votes who will determine whether Kavanaugh gets through the Senate, said after the two met privately he told her he believes Roe is 'settled law.' The memo, marked 'Committee Confidential,' was leaked to the New York Times.Democrats have blasted the administration and the GOP leadership for keeping such documents out of public view.Feinstein confronted Kavanaugh with his years-old language at the hearing, saying it was viewed 'as you saying you don't think is settled.' Kavanaugh tried to reassure her.'The broader point was simply that it was overstating something about legal scholars, Kavanaugh replied, casting it not as a statement of his own views.'I'm always concerned about accuracy, and I thought it was not an accurate description of all legal scholars,' he said.Kavanaugh's comment that 'three current justices' would overturn Roe is out of date due to changes on the court.If an anti-Roe justice replaced the seat of the late Anthony Kennedy, as Kavanaugh would, there might then be five conservative justices who could wipe out the ruling.
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