Could Women's Rights Be Effected If Roberts Confirmed?

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

July 20, 2005

Retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor leaves some pretty big shoes to fill. Shoes that it seems will be filled by a man. So, how do those pushing for women's rights feel about the recent nomination?

"I would have preferred a woman. If you come from a historically subordinate group, and that can be a number of historically subordinate groups, that we have, there is a greater possible that you will be open to hearing different points of view," said women's studies and history UVa professor, Ann Lane.

However, local law experts believe the president's choice should not cause concerns about the number of women sitting on the court.

"I don't think there will be any great outcry about that cause we've now had two women appointed to the court. If O'Connor had retired and left the court with no women at all, I think that would have been a real problem," said UVa law professor, A. E. Dick Howard.

Also a huge question, how big a role John Roberts will play regarding women rights issues if he is confirmed to the supreme court. The hot button issue is without a doubt, abortion. But experts say it's not a matter of Roe vs Wade being overturned, since the court is not so closely divided, but rather abortion regulation.

"I think in areas like parental consent or partial birth abortion, it could be that John Roberts vote could make a difference and the court would begin to back off and give the states more breathing space," said Howard.

According to pro-choice people however, it's simply fueling the fire to do away with the controversial procedure.

“That's the way you get rid of Roe by taking pieces of it over time," said Lane.

No matter how uncertain Roberts' effects may be, the one thing most seem to be certain of is his confirmation. President Bush is pushing for this before the Supreme Court reconvenes in October.

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