Vice President Kamala Harris.
Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images
- VP Kamala Harris said she “never believed” Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on their views of Roe v. Wade.
- “I didn’t believe them. It’s why I voted against,” she told CBS News correspondent Robert Costa.
- During the interview, she declined to say if she agreed with Democrats who want to impeach the two justices.
Vice President Kamala Harris in a Friday interview said that she “never believed” the testimony of Associate Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh when both men were asked about their views on Roe v. Wade during their respective Senate confirmation hearings.
During an interview with CBS News correspondent Robert Costa, Harris — who voted against Gorsuch and Kavanaugh as a California senator — spoke of the impact of the court overturning the Roe decision, which in 1973 legalized abortion in the United States and established a constitutional right to the procedure.
When the vice president, who previously served on the Judiciary Committee, was asked by Costa if she agreed with some Democrats who have called for Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to be impeached for “misleading” statements regarding Roe and precedent, she spoke of her initial decision to reject both nominations to the high court.
“I start from the point of experience of having served in the Senate. I never believed them. I didn’t believe them. It’s why I voted against,” she said, while declining to provide a position on the question of impeachment.
Harris during the interview said that Democrats didn’t previously codify Roe into law because they “believed” that the issue was “settled” law.
“I think that, to be very honest with you, I do believe that we should have rightly believed, but we certainly believed that certain issues are just settled,” she said. “Certain issues are just settled.”
Costa pointed out that last month’s overturning of the nearly 50-year-old decision proved otherwise.
“No, that’s right,” the vice president said. “And that’s why I do believe that we are living — sadly — in real unsettled times.”
Late last month, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold a Mississippi abortion law, while voting 5-4 to overturn Roe.
Republicans for decades had vigorously sought to turn back the decision, with former President Donald Trump appointing Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett during his term office in an effort to make the conservative goal a reality, with the former justices touching on precedent during their confirmation hearings.
All of Trump’s appointees voted to overturn Roe, along with Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
“Part of the value of precedent – and it has lots of value, it has value in and of itself, because it is our history and our history has value intrinsically. But it also has an instrumental value in this sense: it adds to the determinacy of law,” Gorsuch said during his 2017 hearing.
“Once a case is settled, that adds to the determinacy of the law. What was once a hotly contested issue is no longer a hotly contested issue. We move forward,” he added.
Kavanaugh during his hearing was repeatedly questioned about Roe, along with Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 Supreme Court decision which upheld Roe but led to additional restrictions on abortion access.
“It is important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times,” he told senators regarding Roe. “It is not as if it is just a run of the mill case that was decided and never been reconsidered, but Casey specifically reconsidered it, applied the stare decisis factors, and decided to reaffirm it. That makes Casey a precedent on precedent.”
President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order safeguarding abortion and emergency contraception access, but has also pressed lawmakers to pass a law codifying Roe into law, a tough sell in a 50-50 Senate.
Biden last week threw his support behind a special carve-out aimed at passing the legislation with a simple majority, but Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have resisted such a move.