Assistant Senate Democratic leader Alan Cranston of California, citing concerns about the nominee's abortion views, said he will vote against the confirmation of Judge David Souter to the Supreme Court.
In remarks prepared for delivery in the Senate Monday, Cranston became the first senator to announce he will oppose President Bush's choice to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of William Brennan, one of the court's liberal members."I cannot support a nominee who refuses to acknowledge that a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy is a fundamental right or that the right of individuals, married or unmarried, to use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy is a matter of settled law," Cranston said.
"I cannot support a nominee who regards these issues as open questions," said Cranston, the author of an abortion rights bill pending in the Senate.
Souter, 51, a federal appeals court judge and former member of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, declined in his confirmation hearings to say how he might vote on cases challenging the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, which recognized a constitutional right for women to seek abortions.
Souter, in Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that ended last week, said only that he would come to the court with no preconceived agenda on abortion or on Roe vs. Wade.
He was questioned without the controversy that marked the failed nomination of Judge Robert Bork in 1987 during the Reagan admininstration. Some women's and birth control groups did, however, announce their opposition to Souter, citing grounds similar to Cranston's.