Attorney general nominee William Barr on Tuesday said that a Justice Department under his leadership would not challenge Roe v. Wade, but he was less clear on how he would approach disputes over state laws on abortion that make it to the Supreme Court.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked Barr during his confirmation hearing Tuesday if he believes that Roe should be overturned. During his first confirmation process to become attorney general, in late 1991, Barr said “I believe Roe v. Wade should be overruled.”
Responding to the senator, Barr stressed that decades had passed since that hearing, and since solicitors general routinely challenged Roe.
“The department has, under Republican administrations, stopped, as a routine matter, asking that it be overruled, and I don’t see that being resumed,” Barr said of Justice Department challenges to the precedent.
“Would you defend Roe v. Wade if it were challenged?” Blumenthal asked.
Barr answered that, were a state’s regulation concerning abortion end up in the Supreme Court, “I would hope that the [solicitor general] would make whatever arguments are necessary to address that.”
“I think the justices, the recent ones, have made clear that they consider Roe v. Wade an established precedent,” he added. “It’s been on the books 46 years.”
Barr said, upon further questioning, that he would “absolutely” enforce what Blumenthal referred to as the clinic access protection act.