Social media users have taken a quote made by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings in October 2020 out of context. They are claiming she thought Roe v. Wade was settled at the time, contradicting her stance in overturning it in June 2022. The quote shared online cuts Barrett’s next sentence, however, where she stated that she does not view Roe v Wade as a “super-precedent” (or a case less likely to be overturned).
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized a women’s right to abortion nationwide, users shared a quote Barrett is alleged to have made on the second day of her confirmation hearing: “Cases are so well settled that no political actors and no people seriously push for their overruling.”
Some users shared the quote with claims that Barrett was referring to Roe v. Wade as a well-settled case during her confirmation hearing.
One user said on Facebook: “Amy Coney Barret in confirmation hearing: ‘Cases [like Roe] are so well settled that no political actors and no people seriously push for their overruling.’ She lied.” (here).
The quote is incomplete and missing context, however. Barrett was answering a question posed by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar in relation to a definition of a super-precedent and whether Roe v. Wade can be classed as such a ruling. She did not say Roe would be considered a super-precedent.
Barrett’s full comment in relation to the definition of super-precedents at the October 2020 hearings is viewable in a clip uploaded to Twitter by C-SPAN (here).
Klobuchar is heard saying: “Well you also separately acknowledge that in Planned Parenthood v Casey, the Supreme Court’s controlling opinion talked about in the reliance interest on Roe v. Wade, which it treated in that case as super-precedent. Is Roe a super-precedent?”
Barrett then asks how Klobuchar would define super-precedent, to which the senator responds: “I, I actually, I might have thought someday I’d be sitting in that chair. I’m not, I’m up here, so I’m asking you.”
Barrett subsequently answers by saying: “Okay, well people use super-precedent differently. The way that it’s used in the scholarship and the way that I was using it in the article that you’re reading from was to define cases that are so well settled that no political actors and no people seriously push for their overruling.
“And I’m answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category. And scholars across the spectrum say that doesn’t mean that Roe should be overruled but descriptively it does mean that it’s a case - not a case that everyone has accepted and doesn’t call for its overruling,” Barrett said.
Barrett’s full October 2020 senate confirmation hearing is viewable (bit.ly/3yf95MP).
NPR and The New York Times published articles detailing the comments made by the current conservative Supreme Court Justices about Roe v. Wade during their respective confirmation hearings (here), (here).
Misleading. A quote circulating online omits context to comments made by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett during her October 2020 confirmation hearing. Barrett told Senator Klobuchar that she did not view Roe v Wade as a super-precedent Supreme Court ruling – not that she considered Roe v. Wade as a well-settled case.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
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