Ending Roe v Wade could badly backfire on Republicans during elections this year | Lloyd Green
On Monday night, Politico reported that a majority of the US supreme court is poised to overturn Roe v Wade, eviscerate a half-century of precedent, and leave the issue of abortion to the states. Five of the court’s nine justices are prepared to give the Republican base exactly what it demanded. The remaining question for the Republican party is whether answered prayers are the most dangerous.
If the leaked draft of the majority opinion in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization is close to the final cut, the court stands to energize otherwise dejected Democrats and put Republican members of Congress in Democratic-leaning states at risk. Expect the anticipated Republican House majority in the midterms to be smaller than currently projected.
Indeed, the Democrats also now have a real shot to maintain their control of the Senate. Overnight, their odds of retaining seats in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and New Hampshire, while flipping Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, improved.
Beyond federal offices, fights will now be waged this fall over governorships and legislatures in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, but where the incumbent governor is a Democrat, and the legislature is in the hands of the Republican party. In a post-Dobbs world, look to the states to emerge as roiling battlegrounds.
Make no mistake, the draft opinion is sweeping. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Samuel Alito writes for himself and four of his colleagues. “It is time to heed the constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” Along the way, the ruling also offers implicit criticism of the court’s prior decisions on personal autonomy.
Prior precedents on contraception, interracial marriage, consensual sex and gay marriage are now at risk. At a February debate among Michigan’s prospective Republican candidates for attorney general, all three men, including Matthew DePerno, Donald Trump’s choice, criticized Griswold v Connecticut. In that case, the US supreme court struck down a state law that barred the sale of contraceptives to married couples.
DePerno, an advocate of election conspiracy theories, framed his understanding of this this way: “The supreme court … has to decide, mark my words, that the privacy issue currently is unworkable. It’s going to be a states’ rights issue on all these things, as it should be.” DePerno is also the state Republican party’s officially preferred candidate.
Elissa Slotkin, a moderate Michigan Democrat, tweeted on Monday night: “If tonight’s news is true, Michigan’s 1931 state law banning abortion would snap back into effect, making any abortion illegal in our state – even if the mom will die, or if she was raped by a family member. No exceptions.”
A former member of the US intelligence community and the wife of a retired army helicopter pilot, Slotkin added: “My poor mother is turning over in her grave. The House has already voted to codify Roe – let all Senators be on record on this one in an up or down vote.”
In the same neo-Confederate spirit as Michigan’s DePerno, the Indiana senator Mike Braun offered up his benighted take on interracial marriage. Braun argued that like abortion, interracial marriage should be left to the states to decide – not the federal judiciary. Said differently, he was arguing that the supreme court got it wrong in Loving v Virginia.
“When you want that diversity to shine within our federal system, there are going to be rules and proceedings, they’re going to be out of sync with maybe what other states would do,” Braun announced.
“It’s the beauty of the system, and that’s where the differences among points of view in our 50 states ought to express themselves.”
After the ensuing uproar, Braun walked his words back. But in light of Politico’s reporting, the Democrats now have names, faces and an issue. Think ready-made campaign ad.
To be sure, clearer Republican heads viewed the wholesale gutting of Roe as a threat to the Republican party’s elected officials. In the summer of 2021, they attempted to guide the court’s hand; they failed.
Last July, 228 Republican members of Congress, 44 senators and 184 House members, filed an amicus brief in support of the Mississippi abortion law in question. Nowhere did the Republican submission refer to contraception, interracial marriage, or individual autonomy. Likewise, the word “privacy” only appeared as a part of a title of a footnoted law review article. Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert couched their arguments in pastels. Words like “previability” filled the page, as did polling data.
Justices Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, however, were having none of that. For them, it is time to return to what they consider the original constitution.
More than seven in 10 Americans oppose overturning Roe even as the public is split over where to draw a line. In Texas, 77% support legal abortions in case of rape and incest. Not all restrictions are the same. America’s cold civil war just got really hot.