Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, has expressed concerns in the past over the court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion, and suggested it could be overturned, according to leaked emails from the Senate Judiciary Committee published Thursday by The New York Times.
The email in question was written in 2003, during Kavanaugh’s time working for President George W. Bush.
“I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent,” the email reads. “Three current Justices on the Court would do so.”
The emails were made in response to a New York Times pro-choice op-ed that Kavanaugh suggested needed edits. The op-ed read that it is “widely understood and accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land.”
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California asked Kavanaugh about the emails Thursday and whether he believed Roe v. Wade is the “correct law.”
“The broader point was simply that I think it was overstating something about legal scholars, and I’m always concerned with accuracy, and I thought that was not quite an accurate description of all legal scholars because it referred to all,” Kavanaugh said.
In response to Kavanaugh’s leaked email, a White House spokesperson said, “Kavanaugh’s comments on a draft op-ed written by someone else are aimed at strengthening the draft for its particular purpose…and include a statement of fact about lack of scholarly consensus.”
During the hearing on Wednesday, Kavanaugh said the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights was an “important precedent” that has “been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years.”
Democrats and critics of the nominee have long expressed skepticism over Kavanaugh’s support of Roe v. Wade and how he would rule should the abortion rights law be challenged in the future.
Hundreds of thousands of other documents from the Bush White House about Kavanaugh have been deemed “committee confidential” by Senate Republicans, barring the senators from publicly asking the nominee certain questions.
Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey knowingly violated Senate rules Thursday morning by releasing confidential emails on Kavanaugh discussing racial profiling.