By Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A month before he was elected president in 2016, Donald Trump promised during a debate with his rival Hillary Clinton to name the justices to the US Supreme Court who would overturn. reverse the landmark ruling of Roe v. Wade that legalizes abortion nationwide.
His three appointees – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – may be about to make that pledge a reality, based on their comments during debates over the legality of the term abortion law. regime in Mississippi.
“Trump is very effective, as we have seen on the Supreme Court,” said Mike Davis, who led the Project Article III legal team advocating for the former Republican president’s judicial appointees during the Republican presidential nomination. he’s in office, referring to Wednesday’s arguments. “He delivered, as he promised he would.”
During his four years in office, Trump has managed to appoint one-third of the current members of the United States’ highest judicial body and half of the conservative bloc, with all three of his picks on the list. compiled by conservative legal activists.
Wednesday’s arguments marked the first time the current court has heard a case in which Roe’s overturn has been explicitly discussed. Trump’s appointees — Gorsuch in 2017, Kavanaugh in 2018 and Barrett in 2020 — can demonstrate how far the court can go in restoring abortion rights. All six conservative judges have indicated a willingness to significantly cut abortion rights and perhaps completely overthrow Roe.
Then-candidate Trump said during the October 2016 debate with Democrat Clinton about overturning Roe: “Well, if we put in two or perhaps three more judges, that… will be automatic. happened in my opinion because I was taking private judges to court. ”
It was a pitch that attracted conservative Christian voters, who helped put him in office and are still among his most fervent supporters. Trump has yet to announce whether he will run for re-election in 2024.
“I think that’s more likely than at any point in time that we’ve seen at least in the past few years,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the group March for Life, which organizes annual anti-abortion protests in Washington. my life.
While saying that politics is only one part of the effort to stop abortion, Mancini added: “I am very grateful to President Trump for the decisions he has made.”
Barrett’s appointment in particular spurred religious conservatives and anti-abortion activists, reinforcing the court’s 6-3 ultra-conservative majority. Barrett, a devout Catholic and former legal scholar, has previously signaled support for the ouster of Roe in the past.
Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett have expressed doubts during the debate either about Roe’s legal basis or the need to abide by it as a decades-old decision, a legal principle known as stare decision. determined. Proponents of the principle say it protects the credibility and legitimacy of the courts by avoiding politicization and keeping the law stable and uniform.
Gorsuch highlighted what anti-abortion advocates see as a weak point in the argument to keep Roe: it was altered and limited by a 1992 ruling called the Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey over asserting abortion rights. and examine what restrictions states can enact as well that have “evolved over time.”
Kavanaugh highlighted Americans’ divisions over abortion, taking the view often expressed by opponents of abortion that the question should be left to the “people” — the state legislatures. or the United States Congress – decide.
“The Constitution is neither pro-life nor a right to choose on the issue of abortion,” Kavanaugh said.
Barrett during confirmation hearings in the Senate pointed out that Roe is not a “super precedent” that should never be overturned. During Wednesday’s debates, Barrett floated the idea that certain precedents will be harder to debunk than others.
She also questioned whether the recent introduction of “safe-haven” laws in some states, allowing women to hand over unwanted babies to medical facilities without penalty, undermined their rationale. something for abortion because women are not forced to become mothers simply by giving birth or not.
The last time the Supreme Court nearly overturned Roe was in the Casey case in 1992, when its executors rallied and reaffirmed the right to abortion.
The outcome may be different this time thanks in part to a decades-long effort by conservative legal activists to reshape the court and the remarkably effective political maneuvering of a key senator from the United States. Republican Party, Mitch McConnell.
Trump took office with a Supreme Court vacancy to fill because McConnell, then the Senate majority leader, refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s 2016 nominee. Then last year McConnell asked the Senate to quickly confirm Barrett a week before the presidential election to replace the late Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an abortion rights advocate.
Roe sued Wade, recognizing that individual privacy rights under the U.S. Constitution protect a woman’s ability to abort an pregnancy. Mississippi’s Republican-backed 2018 law, blocked by lower courts, prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The ruling in the case will take effect at the end of June.
(Reporting by Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)
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