Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Ted Lieu (D-California) are calling on Senate leadership to issue a formal statement on whether or not Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade lied during their confirmation hearings – which Ocasio-Cortez has said is an impeachable offense.
The two lawmakers wrote to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) on Monday calling on the Senate to clarify whether or not Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and potentially others lied about being willing to preserve the precedent set by Roe. They say that it’s not only critical to preventing further human rights from being taken away from the public but also important to send the message to future Supreme Court nominees that lying under oath is not acceptable.
“We respect the right of individual Justices to have their own views on various constitutional issues,” the lawmakers said. “But we cannot have a system where Justices lie about their views in order to get confirmed. That makes a mockery of the confirmation power, and of the separation of powers.”
They later said that justices who lie in order to get confirmed “shred the legitimacy” of the High Court, adding that public confidence in the Court is at an all-time low.
There are at least two recorded instances of justices lying about their willingness to overturn Roe that Lieu and Ocasio-Cortez highlighted as “particularly egregious.”
During his confirmation in 2017, Gorsuch said: “I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed. A good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.” He added that, if a president asked him to overturn Roe, he would have “walked out the door.”
During Kavanaugh’s confirmation the next year, he said that Roe “is settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court, entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis. The Supreme Court has recognized the right to abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. It has reaffirmed it many times.” He also said that the issue was also settled with 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed abortion rights and was a “precedent on precedent.”
Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have also lied in their meetings with individual senators on the issue, according to Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). Collins said that the justices insisted that they would uphold long-standing precedents as members of the Supreme Court.
These statements are in direct contrast with their majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson in June. Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority that they believed that both Roe and Casey were an “error that cannot be allowed to stand” and that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start.”
If the Senate issues a statement or resolution, as Lieu and Ocasio-Cortez suggest, it would be a strong rebuke from the chamber that voted to confirm the justices. It could also give fuel to the calls from Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) for Congress to investigate whether or not the justices should be impeached.
Shortly after the Dobbs decision came down last month, Ocasio-Cortez said that Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett all pledged to uphold precedents during their confirmation hearings. In addition, she said that Justice Clarence Thomas should also be considered for impeachment investigations over potential corruption related to his wife, Ginni Thomas, and her role in organizing the January 6 attack on the Capitol.