Conservatives eagerly await Supreme Court abortion arguments

Nov 30, 2021, 1:36 AM | Updated: Dec 1, 2021, 10:02 am
People listen during an anti-abortion rally outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, No...

People listen during an anti-abortion rally outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, as activists begin to arrive ahead of arguments on abortion at the court in Washington.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

It’s the moment conservatives have been waiting for.

Oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Wednesday represent the best opportunity leaders on the right have had in decades to gut the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which codified a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb.

If they are successful, it could validate years of often painstakingly granular work that ultimately remade the Republican Party from an alliance of business-friendly leaders into a coalition of cultural conservatives and evangelicals who turned the issue of abortion into a national flashpoint. Even if the justices don’t explicitly overturn Roe, they could open the door to a flurry of new restrictions that would please the right.

Buoyed by a court that is now dominated by a 6-3 conservative majority, some leading Republicans were already expressing confidence on Tuesday.

“We are asking the court in no uncertain terms to make history,” former Vice President Mike Pence, who has been laying the groundwork for a presidential run in 2024, said during a speech in Washington. “We are asking the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade and restore the sanctity of life at the center of American law.”

The justices will weigh whether to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks, with limited exceptions — well before the current established point of “viability,” at around 24 weeks. The court is also weighing challenges to a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks — before many women even know they’re pregnant.

The court could decide to uphold current precedent, could let the law stand, effectively doing away with the current viability standard, or could overturn Roe entirely.

“This is the first time that they have clearly had a majority of pro-life-leaning justices,” said Columbia Law School’s Carol Sanger, an expert in reproductive rights. “So they have the votes if they choose to use them.”

The court’s decision, which is expected by late June, could dramatically shift the contours of next year’s midterm elections, providing a new animating force for Democrats, who largely support abortion rights and have struggled to rally around a unifying issue this year.

Scuttling Roe “will surely embolden efforts of conservatives in many states to craft laws they think might not have held up under Roe,” William Martin, a professor of religion and public policy at Rice University who has studied the rise of the anti-abortion movement, said in an email. “Conservatives will regard this as achieving a long-sought goal, but it may come at a significant cost, since Republicans probably already have most of the voters for whom opposition to abortion is the ultimate litmus test.”

Still, for conservative activists, the case is a culmination of decades of work electing Republican state legislatures, enacting new barriers to abortion access, and supporting anti-abortion judges, including the new conservative super majority on the Supreme Court.

“Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear the biggest case for the pro-life movement in two generations,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group which sponsored Pence’s speech and plans to spend $10 million on TV and digital ads in Washington, D.C., and battleground states to promote the case.

“I think this is that moment of time we’ve all been waiting for,” said Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, an anti-abortion nonprofit in the battleground state. “This is really the pinnacle moment where we can go back to those days where we protect life at the moment of conception.”

Weininger said the issue is likely to be “crucial” in her state in the midterms, especially given that it has a GOP-controlled legislature and a Democratic governor, Tony Evers, who is up for reelection. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, has not yet made a decision on whether he will seek another term, but he has suggested this may be his last, and Rep. Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat, is seen as particularly vulnerable.

“If this decision comes out next summer, this is going to be a key issue in all those races,” Weininger said.

If Roe were to be overturned or severely curtailed, it would be thanks to former President Donald Trump, a most unlikely person to have helped social conservatives achieve their long-awaited goal. Trump ran in 2016 promising to nominate justices who would overturn Roe — a pledge that helped the thrice-married former reality TV star win the support of prominent evangelical leaders as well as other conservatives.

Trump followed through, appointing three conservative justices who transformed the court and making it easier to offer new challenges to abortion rights: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Roe’s demise would likely prompt at least 20 Republican-governed states to impose sweeping bans; perhaps 15 Democratic-governed states would reaffirm support for abortion access.

It remains to be seen how motivating the issue will be politically. In the Virginia governor’s race — the biggest election of the year — only 6% of voters called abortion the most important issue facing the state, according to AP VoteCast.

The issue seems to be more salient for Republicans. Nationally in 2020, VoteCast found that the 3% of voters who said abortion was the most important issue facing the country voted for Trump over Democrat Joe Biden, 89% to 9%. In the race for governor in Virginia, the margin was much tighter, with Republican Glenn Youngkin winning 56% of those who said abortion was the most important issue facing the state, versus 44% who voted for Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Still, Republicans have been eager to seize on the issue, especially as they jockey for support heading into 2024.

On Monday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, another potential presidential candidate, promised that if the state loses an appeal in a legal fight over a law that would require women seeking abortions to first consult with crisis pregnancy centers, which generally advise women not to get abortions, she would try to get the Supreme Court to consider the case.

“We have a couple of opportunities here to make a case to undermine and remove Roe v. Wade,” said Noem, who also signed onto a legal argument in the Mississippi case.

___

Associated Press writer Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, trai...
Associated Press

Russia rejects UK claim of trying to replace Ukraine leader

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday rejected a British claim that Russia was seeking to replace Ukraine’s government with a pro-Moscow administration, and that former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevheniy Murayev was being considered as a potential candidate. Britain’s Foreign Office on Saturday also named several other Ukrainian politicians it said had links with Russian […]
1 day ago
A villager, dressed in a traditional bear costume, celebrates the Malanka festival in the village o...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: Ukrainians observe pagan-rooted new year festival

KRASNOILSK, Ukraine (AP) — Dressed as goats, bears, oxen and cranes, many Ukrainians ring in the new year in the colorful rituals of the Malanka holiday. Malanka, which draws on pagan folk tales, marks the new year according to the Julian calendar, meaning it falls on Jan. 13-14. In the festivities, celebrants go from house […]
1 day ago
A man repairs a 10-meter wooden row boat, built in the Nordic clinker boat tradition, at the Viking...
Associated Press

UNESCO lists Viking-era wooden sailboats on heritage list

ROSKILDE, Denmark (AP) — For thousands of years, wooden sailboats allowed the peoples of Northern Europe to spread trade, influence and sometimes war across seas and continents. In December, the U.N.’s culture agency added Nordic “clinker boats” to its list of traditions that represent the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and […]
1 day ago
Migrants gather near the Hungarian border, outside of the village of Martonosh, Serbia, Thursday, J...
Associated Press

Migrants at Hungary border become part of election campaign

MAJDAN, Serbia (AP) — A group of migrants huddles beside a small, smoky fire inside an abandoned building in northern Serbia, the last moments of warmth before they set out into the driving snow toward the razor wire, cameras and sensors of Hungary’s electrified border fence. A few hours later, they return, their efforts to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History

Today in History Today is Sunday, Jan. 23, the 23rd day of 2022. There are 342 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Jan. 23, 2020, Chinese state media said the city of Wuhan would be shutting down outbound flights and trains, trying to halt the spread of a new virus that […]
1 day ago
Aleena Mir, a journalist with Kashmir Walla, records the news bulletin inside a studio of her offic...
Associated Press

In Kashmir, India batters press freedom — and journalists

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — For five years, Sajad Gul wrote about conflict wracking his homeland, a disputed Himalayan territory where a violent armed rebellion and India’s brutal counterinsurgency have raged for over three decades. That changed on a snowy Wednesday night in January with a knock at his house. Gul was surrounded by Indian soldiers […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Conservatives eagerly await Supreme Court abortion arguments