Democratic Reps Call on Senate to Declare That Supreme Court Justices Lied Under Oath in Confirmation Hearings

"We cannot have a system where Justices lie about their views in order to get confirmed," Reps. AOC and Ted Lieu wrote, referencing anti-abortion justices who defended Roe during the confirmation process

Congressional Democrats are angry. And they may be rightfully so.

After then-Judge Neil Gorsuch was nominated for the highest court in the land by former President Donald Trump in 2017, chatter immediately spread throughout the D.C. political arena about the potential for Roe v. Wade to be overturned in the future.

Trump had made it a primary campaign issue in 2016 to get rid of the federally protected right to abortion, and he was only three months into his presidency when he announced his first nominee.

In Gorsuch's confirmation hearings, Democratic senators grilled the former U.S. Court of Appeals judge about his official stance on abortion and the precedent that Roe established. Gorsuch seemingly agreed with Democrats that Roe was in fact settled case law.

Fast forward a little less than a year and a half to Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings, where he uttered the same sentiments about Roe v. Wade as his now colleague, saying, "It is important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times."

Kavanaugh went even further and referred to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the case that reconsidered and reaffirmed Roe in 1992, as "precedent on precedent."

Brett Kavanaugh, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Neil Gorsuch
Brett Kavanaugh, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Neil Gorsuch. Win McNamee/Getty; Nathan Howard/Getty; Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty

But on June 24, years after swaying moderate senators to confirm them by appearing to support Roe v. Wade, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were two of six Supreme Court justices to overturn that super precedent and strip pregnant people of the constitutional right to abortion.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, along with Rep. Ted Lieu of California, have formally asked the Senate to determine whether Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh lied under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee during their respective confirmation hearings.

The letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, alleges that both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh "misled the American people during their confirmation hearings about their views on Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood," and specifically accused both of directly lying to senators.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's third Supreme Court nominee, was not mentioned in the letter.

"We respect the right of individual Justices to have their own views on various constitutional issues," Ocasio-Cortez and Lieu added. "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."

The House members are hoping for the Democratic-led Senate to ultimately conclude that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh did lie to the Senate and give them written firepower to go after the justices. What would happen next is unclear, though.

Only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached by the House of Representatives — Justice Samuel Chase — yet he was acquitted by the Senate in 1805. The concept is entirely foreign to contemporary American politics and would inevitably lead to a slippery slope for both parties.

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Congressional Democrats may also want the Senate to confirm their allegations simply to damage Americans' trust in Republicans ahead of the November midterms. Abortion is a contentious topic throughout the country and will certainly impact countless federal and state elections this year.

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