WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, raised questions as a White House aide more than a decade ago about whether the 1973 high court ruling legalizing abortion was settled law, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing leaked emails.
The Times said an “unknown person” provided several confidential emails to the newspaper late on Wednesday relating to Kavanaugh’s work in the White House under Republican former President George W. Bush. A lawyer for Bush previously turned over thousands of documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Republican-led panel deemed “committee confidential,” meaning they could not be made public or discussed during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing this week.
Some liberal critics have expressed concern that Kavanaugh, if confirmed by the Senate, could provide the decisive fifth vote on the nine-member high court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.
In one document cited by the Times, Kavanaugh suggested striking a line from a draft opinion piece that had stated “it is widely accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land,” saying that the Supreme Court could overturn it.
During his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Kavanaugh addressed the Roe decision, calling it “an important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times.” He also highlighted the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling that reaffirmed Roe, calling it a “precedent on precedent.”
The Times also reported that Kavanaugh wrote in another document that some U.S. Transportation Department affirmative action regulations used “a lot of legalisms and disguises to mask what is a naked racial set-aside,” the Times reported.
Affirmative action refers to policies that favor groups like racial minorities in practices such as hiring that have experienced past discrimination.
Reuters could not confirm the release of the secret emails.
Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Will Dunham