By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
I have been told by a well-known leader of a major progressive women's rights group that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is pro-choice. This leader has spoken with many of the judge's associates and clerks over the years. While there is no one this person spoke with who confirmed he or she had had a conversation with Judge Sotomayor in which she self-identified as pro-choice, everyone my source spoke with said it was evident in her personality and attitude.
One person pointed my source to an important piece of evidence that serves to prove this point. In the late 1980s, Judge Sotomayor sat on the board of a group now called, Latino Justice. The group's name at the time she was on the board was used the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.
While she was on the board, PRLDEF joined with scores of other civil rights groups to file an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services:
In Webster, the court upheld a Missouri state ban on the use of public employees and facilities for performing abortions—effectively reversing course and demonstrating that Roe (v. Wade) wasn't necessarily "settled law" that confined future revisions. The 5-to-4 vote found that Missouri law was in keeping with past rulings...which held that the "state need not commit any resources to facilitating abortions."
PRLDEF and others filed that brief in support of the side that ultimately lost. But the brief argued, among other things, that if the Supreme Court were to use the Webster case to reverse Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion on a national scale, poor women of color would be disproportionately burdened by lack of access to abortion. It also said they would resort to more use of illegal abortions, as they did prior to the Roe decision.
If, as a member of PRLDEF's board, Judge Sotomayor had objected to any of this language, she could have attempted to stop the group from lending its name to the amicus brief, and she did not.
Big sigh of relief from the pro-choice crowd!
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