Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking GOP member on the Judiciary Committee, says he won't make abortion a litmus test in assessing President Barack Obama's choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
"Could I support a pro-abortion nominee?” Session said. “The answer is yes.”
The Alabama senator told C-SPAN he doesn’t expect Obama’s nominee to come to the bench without having a view on the issues.
“I don't expect them to not to have been engaged in the great issues of the day, but they shouldn't allow their personal view on abortion to shape how they define the law, Sessions said.
Sessions, who replaced pro-choice Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania as the top GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee when Specter switched parties last month, said he doesn’t favor filibustering to block a pro-abortion selection to the high court but would not rule it out.
Last week, Sessions was one of four senators to meet with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, where he told the president that a court nominee's sexual orientation would not be a factor for him, either, the Press-Register reported.
"I don't think that's the question," Sessions told reporters after the meeting.
"The most important thing(s) are their personal integrity and high legal skills, good judgment and understand that their role is to declare the law and not make law."
Sessions has said repeatedly that he would not resort to "litmus tests" in vetting a nominee, either due to views on abortion or sexual orientation.
"I don't believe in any litmus tests,” Sessions told Fox News a few days before his appearance on C-SPAN. “I think a judge can have a different view on abortion than I would have and still could receive my vote."
Session said: "I think the primary thing is that a nominee show fidelity to the law and that they not have any agendas, personal, social, religious, or otherwise that would keep them for being faithful to the legal system of America."
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., however, told Bloomberg that the GOP “would never bend” on the abortion issue. McCarthy is in charge of recruiting candidates to run as Republicans in the 2010 elections.
"I think it's dumb," said Joseph M. Scheidler, founder and head of the Pro-Life Action League.
"If they [the GOP] start supporting pro-choice — or pro-abortion — candidates, they're going to really rile up their conservative base. We don't want pro-choice Republicans or Democrats, because we're issue-oriented, not party-oriented. We'd just as well have our own party," Scheidler tells Huffington Post
In a statement released to the media, Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., agreed.
"The essence of being a Republican is the belief in free markets, the belief in individual responsibility, the belief in the faith of the individual," Cantor said.
"This is what our party is about."
Newsmax reported last week that a new Gallup poll shows a majority of Americans now identify themselves as being pro-life for the first time ever.
Obama is likely to announce his Supreme Court selection after the court's session adjourns in June.
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