Democrats Vow to Protect Roe v. Wade But Can’t Do Much
DThe mood was tense Tuesday for emocrats within Congress. Politico published just hours ago a draft opinion from a Supreme Court major that would reject the bill. Roe V. Wade Senators made fiery pledges about the next steps Congress should take to ensure legal abortion access.
“I am angry. Angry and upset and determined,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts declared outside the Court. “The United States Congress can keep Roe v. WadeThe law of the land. They just need to do it.”
It just wasn’t clear how. Many Democrats pursued long-standing legislative paths to ensure the rights to legal abortion throughout the country. “Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW,” Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted. “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.”
However, in a Senate with 50-50 members, any attempt to pass legislation allowing abortion access across the country would need 60 votes. Democrats have a very low chance of winning. And any attempt to end-run that 60-vote limit would require overturning the filibuster—an equally unlikely scenario.
Continue reading: The Leaked Roe V. Wade Supreme Court Draft Opinion
That much was clear in February, when Republican Senators, joined by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, blocked a bill known as the Women’s Health Protection Act, which was designed to enshrine the right to abortions in federal law. The measure passed the Democratic-controlled House last September, but never stood a chance of gaining the support of 60 senators.
Tuesday’s acknowledgment by Democrats at the Capitol was made by the fact that few things have changed even though an explosive leak from Court has intensified the urgency.
“We’ll put a vote on the floor to make clear where the senators stand,” says Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut. “It’s no secret that we don’t have the votes right now to change the rules of the Senate to ensconce Roe v. Wade into law.”
Hours after the election, Senate Democrats hold a lunch meeting. Roe Draft opinion leaks, but no one brings up filibuster, according to Democratic Senate Bob Menendez, New Jersey. This could be because both Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Silena and Manchin are opposed to its killing. “The filibuster is the only protection we have of democracy right now,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday. Sinema said in a statement that not eliminating the filibuster is a “safeguarding against the erosion of women’s access to health care.”
“The people who don’t want to change the filibuster haven’t changed their minds,” says a Senate Democratic aide. “There will be a push to enact legislative changes, but we simply don’t have the votes.”
Continue reading: Roe V. Wade’s Unacceptable Consequences
Democrats pledged to bring the matter front and center in the next midterm elections in the absence of such leaders. “You can be sure in 2022, this will be an issue all throughout the country,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters. “We’ve got to go out and make the case to voters to elect more Democrats,” Murphy says.
Democratic lawmakers stressed the importance of a SCOTUS ruling to make real what had been an abstract fear. “There’s a big difference between threatening to take away women’s reproductive rights and actually doing it,” says Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen. “This is a clarifying moment. This was a long-standing part of the right-wing movement. Now the American people are waking up to seeing that what was implicit is now explicit.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar reacted against the draft opinion and called it anti-American. “The Supreme Court has been stacked with ultra conservative justices who are literally reversing 50 years of precedent,” Klobuchar intoned in the Senate basement. “They are taking Neanderthal views, pushing America backwards.”
But, the Hill Democrats admitted privately that they could not change the circumstances in a split Senate.
“We’ll have another vote to codify Roe into law,” according to a senior House staffer, “but that’s just meaningless because of the Senate.”
Read More From Time