Democrats call for action. GOP voice support. Leaked Supreme Court Roe draft opinion sets stage for 2022 midterms

Democrats on Monday night sounded the alarm after Politico published a leaked draft opinion that suggested the Supreme Court appeared ready to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision protecting a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. Republicans, meanwhile, voiced cautious support.

The polarized reactions indicated that abortion rights will a key issue in the midterm elections, galvanizing voters of both parties. Hundreds of protesters already demonstrated outside the Supreme Court on Monday night, including a small group who do not support abortion rights. 

Even before the report of the opinion on Monday, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the organization Emily’s List announced a plan to spend $150 million on the 2022 midterms to elect candidates who would protect abortion rights. 

According to tracking on ActBlue, the platform used to raise money for Democrats and progressive organizations, more than $1 million poured in, in less than three hours Monday night following the report. 

Supreme Court Abortion
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2002 in Washington.

Anna Johnson / AP

Lawmakers and officials from both parties have been bracing for a Supreme Court decison on the 15-week Mississippi abortion ban in the case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  The court heard arguments on the case in December and is expected to release an opinion in late June or early July when the term ends. Early drafts of opinions can change before the final decision is released and some of the justices could change their minds. 

According to the reported draft opinion that was obtained by Politico, the decision – if finalized – could would overturn the 50-year precedent codified by Roe and leave the question of abortion to states. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 states are certain to or likely to ban abortion without the protections established in the Roe v. Wade decision. Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws that would go into effect almost immediately, others have bans that were in the books before Roe v Wade or passed restrictions that went on to face legal challenges. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a blistering joint statement Monday night saying that if Politico’s report is accurate, the court is poised to inflict the “greatest restriction on rights in the past fifty years.”

“The Republican-appointed Justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history,” the statement read. It went on to read several of the conservative justices “have lied to the U.S. Senate, ripped up the Constitution and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, on Monday night responded to Politico’s report by calling for Congress to pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade, tweeting “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.”

But while the House passed a bill to preserve access to abortion ahead of the anticipated Supreme Court decision, the Women’s Health Protection Act was blocked in the Senate in February nearly along party lines with all Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia opposing.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said Senate Democrats must be willing to end the filibuster but also signaled abortion access would play a critical role in the upcoming elections.

“As we approach the midterm elections, it is absolutely critical that Democrats turn out in record numbers to maintain our majorities. The American people do not support the government interfering with what people do with their own bodies,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

Other Democrats sent out tweets, statements and fundraising emails. As Democrats fight to hold onto their majority in the 50-50 split Senate – several Democrats running to unseat Republicans immediately weighed in. 

“This horrifying news — and Washington’s failure to eliminate the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade to protect our rights — has shown us exactly what is at stake and it is more urgent than ever that we elect leaders who will stand up for our fundamental freedoms in the U.S. Senate,” said U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley, who is running in North Carolina.

The Democratic National Committee put out a statement: “Make no mistake: reproductive rights will be on the ballot and this midterm election is more important now than ever before.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned and abortion is left to states, Democratic governors on Monday night vowed to protect women’s rights to an abortion. Governor Gavin Newsom said California is proposing an amendment to “build a firewall” around the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution. 

But while Democrats expressed outrage over Politico’s report of the draft opinion  – Republicans have been less immediate in their responses. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas called on the Supreme Court and Justice Department to “get to the bottom of this leak immediately using every investigative tool necessary” in a tweet. He also called Roe “egregiously wrong from the beginning.”

Senator Marco Rubio immediately seized on the leak of the report as well – a leak that is unprecedented in modern times. He also responded to Sanders’ call to end the filibuster on Twitter.

Others voiced support Monday night for the reported opinion itself. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri tweeted it’s “a heck of an opinion” and “morally powerful.” 

Former Senator David Perdue, who is running for governor of Georgia this year, released a statement saying he’s “hopeful” Roe v Wade may be overturned soon – and touted his time in the Senate helping to confirm three conservative justices under President Trump. 

If overturned and the issue is left up to states, CBS News polling from November 2021 found a majority – 62% – of Americans would want abortion in their own state to be legal in all or most cases. Only 14% would want their state to make it illegal in all cases.

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