Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Abortion Fight Takes Center Stage on Capitol Hill, Campaign Trail

Following-up, "BREAKING! Supreme Court to Overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey."

It's going to be an intense day, a busy and intense day.

Reap the whirlwind, people. 

At the Wall Street Journal, "Roe v. Wade Abortion Case Takes Center Stage on Capitol Hill, Campaign Trail":

After Supreme Court draft opinion leaks, Democrats see ‘five-alarm fire,’ seek federal legislation, while Republicans embrace news.

WASHINGTON—The publication of a draft opinion that suggested the Supreme Court may be preparing to throw out Roe v. Wade put the question of abortion rights at the center of the nation’s political debate, with Democrats calling for new legislation to enshrine existing protections and Republicans welcoming the news while criticizing the leak.

The draft opinion was published Monday evening by Politico, which said it was written by Justice Samuel Alito and was the opinion of the court, implying a majority supported it. The draft, dated from February, couldn’t be independently confirmed, but legal observers said it appeared authentic. The Supreme Court’s spokeswoman declined to comment.

The court is expected to issue its opinion by the end of June or early July, and if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned it would leave the question of access to abortions to individual states.

Democratic senators as well as Democratic candidates in closely watched races this year called for Congress to try again to pass a federal law codifying Roe v. Wade, after a previous effort failed and drew no Republican support. Democrats are aiming to use federal legislation to try to override GOP-backed laws in states, including Texas, that place limits on women’s ability to terminate their pregnancies.

“If this is true, this kind of outcome is exactly what I’ve been ringing alarm bells about—and this is a five-alarm fire,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

“We cannot sit back and allow the Supreme Court to gut Ohioans’ most fundamental rights,” said Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who is running for Senate in the Buckeye State.

In a statement, President Biden said that “basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that [Roe] not be overturned.” He said that the leaked draft underscored the need to elect more pro-abortion-rights senators and keep the House majority in order to pass legislation codifying Roe, which he said he would sign into law.

The Supreme Court is considering whether to allow a 15-week ban passed in Mississippi. The court has previously established the right to an abortion until a fetus is able to sustain meaningful life outside of the womb, which generally occurs at weeks 22 to 24 of pregnancy.

Many Republicans said they welcomed the prospect of Roe being overturned, as the draft opinion suggested, while also decrying the leak, which they blamed on liberals trying to pressure the court. Politico said it received a copy of the draft from a person familiar with the proceedings in the Mississippi case.

“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,” tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), while adding he was “appalled by the shocking breach of trust posed by this leak,” characterizing it as a “blatant attempt to intimidate the Court.”

“The next time you hear the far left preaching about how they are fighting to preserve our Republic’s institutions & norms remember how they leaked a Supreme Court opinion in an attempt to intimidate the justices on abortion,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.).

Access to abortion has been a central concern of both the political right and left for decades and has been the subject of partisan battles over high-court nominees. The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in late 2020 allowed then-President Donald Trump to nominate a sixth conservative to the bench, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and prompted states to pass laws challenging the Roe precedent.

Now, abortion access is likely to figure prominently in November’s midterm elections, where Democrats are defending slender control of the Senate and House and face weak poll numbers both for President Biden and the party. Some political analysts have said a ruling striking down or restricting abortion rights could motivate Democratic turnout.

On Monday morning, ahead of the Politico report, abortion-rights backers Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Emily’s List said they planned to spend $150 million on the midterms.

After the Politico article published, some Democrats again called for ending the filibuster—the Senate rule that requires 60 votes to advance most legislation—to enable them to pass a federal abortion bill with just a simple majority. But even obtaining a majority may be difficult, as Senate Democrats failed to garner 50 votes for an abortion bill earlier this year and failed to get a majority to back ending the filibuster after their agenda of voting reforms stalled.

“Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW. 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,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats.

Among the Democratic Senate candidates who called for ending the filibuster Monday night were Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is running to be the Democratic nominee for Senate and challenge GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democratic candidate for an open Senate seat.

In a joint statement Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said any ruling overturning Roe “defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation.” But they didn’t immediately suggest a legislative plan...