WASHINGTON (Circa) — President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he doesn't plan to ask his Supreme Court nominee about his or her position on overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortions legal nationwide.
Justice Anthony Kennedy's announcement that he will step down from the Supreme Court at the end of July has some concerned that President Trump may choose to replace him with a more conservative justice who favors giving individual states the power to determine the legality of abortion.
In an interview with Fox News' Maria Bartiromo, Trump said he was being advised not to ask his nominee about the issue. "They're all saying, 'Don't do that. You shouldn't do that,'" Trump explained. "I don't think I'm going to be so specific in the questions I'm [asking]."
However, the president hinted that the 1973 decision could be overturned, saying whether or not women can access abortions "could very well end up with states at some point."
On the campaign trail, Trump told supporters that he would appoint pro-life justices to the court, likely resulting in the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Defending women's access to abortions has become a central issue in what is expected to be a heated political battle over Trump's second Supreme Court pick.
Trump can only afford to lose one Republican vote in the Senate. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer, is not expected to return to Washington to cast a vote. Under current Senate rules, the president needs a simple 51-vote majority to confirm the next justice.
Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, has said she will oppose the nomination of a justice who will reverse the decades-old decision to legalize abortion. In a Sunday interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Collins asserted that she "would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade," adding the decision established abortion as a "constitutional right."
In addition to Collins, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is also considered a key swing vote. Murkowski has said she personally dislikes abortion but recognizes it as a settled reproductive right.
On Friday, Trump sat down with a number of senators to discuss the potential nominee he will choose from a list of 25. Later, the president told reporters he had narrowed down the list to about five candidates, including two women.
President Trump is expected to announce his pick to succeed Justice Kennedy on July 9.