When a draft of a Supreme Court opinion on overturning 1973’s Roe v. Wade was published, reactions from both sides of the aisle were swift and strong. Liberals immediately started to talk about passing legislation to codify a woman’s right to an abortion (even if it meant doing away with the filibuster), and conservatives seemed more concerned about the breach of confidentiality that exposed the document.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the now-infamous draft, “We hold that Roe and Casey [Planned Parenthood v. Casey] must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” But what do the key players in American politics make of it?
President Joe Biden said that if the Court overturns Roe, it would signify a “radical” and “fundamental” change in the rule of law, adding:
“It concerns me a great deal that we’re going to, after 50 years, decide a woman does not have the right to choose. But equally as profound is the rationale used.
“Every other decision related to the notion of privacy is thrown into question. Who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child … whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions.”
The Left Shouts
The commander-in-chief wasn’t the only one to offer strong words. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a statement that called the proposed decision an “abomination.” The pair wrote:
“Several of these conservative Justices, who are in no way accountable to the American people, have lied to the U.S. Senate, ripped up the Constitution and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation — all at the expense of tens of millions of women who could soon be stripped of their bodily autonomy and the constitutional rights they’ve relied on for half a century.”
Vice President Kamala Harris said those who oppose Roe “want to punish women and take away their rights to make decisions about their own bodies.” She accused Republicans of “weaponizing the use of the law against women.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called the current group of justices “an extremist Supreme Court” and said, “We’re not going back – not ever.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) expounded on why she thinks Americans have voted for Democratic candidates: “People elected Democrats precisely so we could lead in perilous moments like these – to codify Roe, hold corruption accountable, & have a President who uses his legal authority to break through Congressional gridlock on items from student debt to climate. It’s high time we do it.”
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) applauded Dems for criticizing Republicans and promoted voting for candidates on the left in upcoming elections. “It isn’t popular to ban abortion or contraception. It isn’t popular to bully gay kids. It isn’t popular to ban books. It isn’t popular to attack Disney. Democrats shouldn’t be afraid to call out Republicans for their extreme, hard right turn. We can run on this and win.”
New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul said this was an “absolutely disgraceful attack on our fundamental right to choose.” She concluded with a promise: “New York will always guarantee your right to abortion. You have our word.”
Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) suggested the draft opinion was based on a right-wing school of thought that threatens liberal democracy.
“The draft SCOTUS opinion – allowing laws banning abortion in all cases, including rape – shows a right-wing majority poised to destroy Roe, Casey and the constitutional right to privacy,” he declared. “Striking down fundamental rights, they seek to usher in an Orban-style ‘illiberal democracy.’” (Viktor Orban is the prime minister of Hungary who is noted for his center-right political and social positions.)
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) favors killing the filibuster if it clears the way for Congress to codify abortion: “Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW. And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes.”
Hillary Clinton suggested the decision, if approved, is “a direct assault on the dignity, rights, & lives of women.” She further suggested that “[i]t will kill and subjugate women even as a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal. What an utter disgrace.”
The Right Demands Accountability
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the security breach that allowed the SCOTUS opinion to be prematurely released was “an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court,” adding: “By every indication, this was yet another escalation in the radical left’s ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law.” Taking it even further, McConnell berated the president and others:
“The disgraceful statements by President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Schumer refuse to defend judicial independence and the rule of law and instead play into this toxic spectacle. Real leaders should defend the Court’s independence unconditionally.”
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called for the immediate discovery of how such information was leaked and indicated “Roe was egregiously wrong from the beginning & I pray the Court follows the Constitution & allows the states to once again protect unborn life.”
Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) opined it has always been the left’s mission to destroy the Court: “The Supreme Court’s confidential deliberation process is sacred & protects it from political interference. This breach shows that radical Democrats are working even harder to intimidate & undermine the Court. It was always their plan. The justices cannot be swayed by this attack.”
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) praised the leaked opinion and urged the Court to stick by the document: “The left continues its assault on the Supreme Court with an unprecedented breach of confidentiality, clearly meant to intimidate. The Justices mustn’t give in to this attempt to corrupt the process. Stay strong. I will say, if this is the Court’s opinion, it’s a heck of an opinion. Voluminously researched, tightly argued, and morally powerful.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke on both the “rightness” of overturning Roe and his approval of the leaked text. “If this report is true, this is nothing short of a massive victory for life and will save the lives of millions of innocent babies,” he stated.
Cruz blamed the leak on “vicious partisan politicking” used by today’s Democrats and suggested the person responsible is probably “some angry left-wing law clerk. This is a blatant attempt to intimidate the Court through public pressure rather than reasoned argument.”
He expressed his strong feelings about the breach in Court confidentiality:
“In over two centuries of our nations history, this has never happened, and this is as corrosive, as destructive to the Supreme Court as we’ve ever seen.”