Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed the Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision to overturn the nation’s landmark Roe v. Wade law as a “abomination,” vowing that if it stands, the Senate will vote on legislation to protect women’s access to abortions.
Schumer claimed that the conservative justices “lied” to the Senate during their confirmation hearings when they assured senators that the case that has allowed abortion access since 1973 was settled law. “The Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years — not just on women, but on all Americans,” he said, referring to the draft opinion.
However, the Democratic leader stopped short of promising to change Senate filibuster rules to allow Democrats to overcome Republican opposition and pass legislation to save the landmark abortion law on their own, as some party supporters have demanded.
Schumer lacks the votes within the Democrats’ razor-thin 50-vote majority in the Senate to force a rule change that would allow Democrats to push past what is typically a 60-vote threshold on major bills.
Instead, Democrats focused their attention on the chamber’s two most prominent Republicans who support abortion access, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Both had refused to assist Democrats in blocking the confirmation of Trump-era judges who tipped the Supreme Court’s majority to conservatives and are now jeopardizing the landmark Roe v. Wade law.
Collins blamed the justices in a morning statement, singling out two of the three Trump-era judges she had supported for confirmation, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Collins stated that if the court rules on abortion based on the leaked draft opinion, “it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office.”
The Maine Republican supported both nominees, though she did not vote for Justice Amy Coney Barrett because the nomination came so close to the 2020 election, when the presidency was up for grabs, and she was also up for re-election.
Alaska senator who is up for reelection this year and did not vote for Kavanaugh after his explosive confirmation hearings over allegations he sexually assaulted a high school acquaintance. She did, however, express her support for Gorsuch and Barrett.
Other Republican senators characterized the unusual leak of the high-profile draft opinion as an attempt to intimidate the court.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, lamented “unhinged” Democratic rhetoric and demanded that the leak be “investigated and punished to the fullest extent of the law.” On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak after confirming the authenticity of the leaked draft opinion.
Schumer stated that Republican senators will have to answer to voters in the upcoming election, implying that Democrats prefer to fight the issue on the campaign trail rather than in Congress.
Conservatives have been working behind the scenes for years to repeal the nation’s 1973 abortion law, and Republican senators made judicial nominations their top priority during Donald Trump’s presidency.
Trump was able to nominate and have three justices confirmed by the Senate, resulting in a complete overhaul of the Supreme Court, which now has a solid conservative 6-3 majority.
As Republican leader, McConnell stunned Washington at the start of the 2016 presidential campaign season by refusing to allow the Senate to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for a Supreme Court vacancy, keeping the position open until Trump was elected president that fall.
McConnell then enacted a Senate rule change that allowed Republicans to bypass a Democratic filibuster and approve Supreme Court nominees on a simple 51-vote threshold, going further than Democrats had done with their own earlier rule change to allow majority confirmation of lower-level positions.
Late Monday, a draft of the court’s majority decision was leaked and reported showing the majority’s intent to overturn the abortion law. It is unclear if the draft circulating will be the court’s final decision on the case, which is expected by late June.