WASHINGTON - (AP) - Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor declinedrepeatedly at Senate confirmation hearings Wednesday to discloseher views on abortion rights and said President Barack Obama neverasked her before he chose her for the bench.
"I can't answer ... because I can't look at it in theabstract," she told Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., as he sought to drawher out with questions about hypothetical cases, including one inwhich a woman wanted to abort a 38-week fetus with a birth defect.
Coburn opposes abortion rights, but Sotomayor was no moreforthcoming when questioned by a lawmaker on the other side of theissue.
"Would you think that Roe might be a super-duper precedent?"probed Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa, pointing out that the landmark1973 case that established the right to an abortion has been upheldin 38 cases. She did not answer directly, saying instead it was asettled precedent, a phrase she first used on Tuesday.
Her reticence reflected a traditional concern among high courtnominees about straying into areas where they may soon have to rule- gun rights and abortion among them in Sotomayor's case.
But it also appeared to reflect a calculation by Sotomayor andadministration officials in charge of shepherding her nominationthat she was well on her way toward confirmation and thus hadnothing to gain by providing detailed answers that her criticscould use.
The Judiciary Committee hearings are expected to concludeThursday.
A vote by the full Senate to confirm Sotomayor is expected in early August, allowing her to don the robes of a justice before a scheduled hearing on Sept. 9 on a case involving federal campaign finance law.