Washington- a bomb draft opinion in the largest abortion case to land before the Supreme Court in decades that was published by Politico late Monday sparked protests and outrage from abortion-rights supporters, and quickly reignited calls on Capitol Hill for Democrats to take action to protect abortion access. .
Written by Justice Samuel Alito and reportedly circulated among the justices in February, the draft opinion indicates that a majority of the justices appear ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established the right to abortion. Such a Supreme Court move would overturn 50 years of abortion rights and lead to a patchwork of state laws where access depends on where a person lives.
The Supreme Court confirmed the document’s authenticity on Tuesday, but said it “does not represent a decision of the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”
While the opinion is a draft and it is possible that the justices will change their votes before a decision is rendered, before the court’s term ends in late June or early July in this case, the document has led to Democrats to call for mobilization. in response, both at the polls and on Capitol Hill.
“Make no mistake, the blame for this decision falls squarely on Senator Republicans and Senate Republicans as a whole who spent years lobbying extremist judges, spent years confirming three far-right justices on the Supreme Court but who claim that somehow this day would never come,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday in remarks on the Senate floor. “But this day has come and we will fight to the end.”
In a statement Tuesday morning before the court upheld its authenticity, President Biden said he does not know “whether this draft is genuine or reflects the final decision of the Court,” but said his administration “will be ready when whatever the ruling is issued” and urged voters to elect lawmakers who codify the right to abortion as law.
“[I]If the Court annuls Roe, It will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect women’s right to choose. And it will be up to voters to elect pro-choice officials this November,” the president said. “At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, that I will work to pass and enact into law.
Last year, the House passed legislation strengthening abortion access across the country, but the evenly split Senate failed to advance the measure in February with a 46-48 vote that was well below 60 votes needed for legislation to move forward.
Following the Politico report, a lot from Democrats in both chambers they asked the Senate to approve the measure, called the Women’s Health Protection Act. But he faces headwinds given the 60-vote threshold to get past a filibuster, as 10 Republicans would have to join Democrats to advance the abortion rights bill, and none voted to do so earlier this month. this year. Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, also voted with Republican senators against moving forward with the bill.
Still, Schumer said he plans to have the Senate vote again on legislation codifying abortion rights into law.
“A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise. This is as urgent and real as it sounds,” he said. “We will vote to protect women’s right to choose, and every American will see whose side every senator is on.”
Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, support abortion rights but have said the Women’s Health Protection Act is too broad. Instead, the couple introduced their own legislation in February that would codify abortion rights established by Roe.
For the abortion rights bill to reach Biden’s desk, Democratic senators have again said the upper house must change its rules and end legislative filibuster.
“If #SCOTUS is going to legislate from the dais and turn back the clock 50 years on #RoeVWade, then the Senate must pass my Women’s Health Protection Act, and if we need to remove stonewalling to do that, we must do that too.” Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, tweeted.
“Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who met with Democrats. said on Twitter. “And if there isn’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there isn’t, we need to end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes.”
House Democrats also advocated removing filibuster to protect abortion rights. But that step is almost certainly impossible, as both Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Manchin oppose ending the filibuster.
Manchin reiterated his opposition to removing filibuster Tuesday, telling reporters on Capitol Hill that “it’s the only protection we have from democracy right now.”
Democrats said the draft opinion, as currently drafted, underscores the importance of the election.
“To the American people I say this: This November’s election will have consequences, because the rights of 100 million women are now on the ballot,” Schumer said. “To help fight your court’s terrible decision, I urge all Americans to make their voices heard this week and this year. I urge Americans to call your members, write to them, email them, send text messages to its members and, above all, to cast their vote”.
Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, said the statement should galvanize voters ahead of November’s midterm elections, when Democrats will seek to maintain their House and Senate majorities.
“After sounding these alarm bells, for years: it’s time to break the glass. It is time for every person, in every state, to realize that this affects you, your choices, your rights,” he said in a statement. “It’s not happening to someone else, in some other state, it’s happening everywhere, and the highest court in the land is preparing to take away your rights right now. We need to fight back with everything we have right now. “
Jack Turman contributed reporting.