With Pres. Donald J. Trump making his second nominee, the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court is on a collision course with the abortion rights precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
Although the far-left segment of the Democratic Party dusts off the “women’s rights are under attack” rhetoric every time a Republican president nominates a judge to the nation’s highest court, they may be on point this time. Even a cursory look at the president’s published list of potential replacements of Justice Anthony Kennedy shows a glaring propensity for originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
The term “originalist” emerged in the 1980s as a trendy way to say a justice decides cases based on the Founding Fathers intent. Justice Antonin Scalia was the poster child of this legal school of thought. He was recently replaced by Neil Gorsuch, another originalist. One of the underlying ideas of originalist thinkers is to empower state’s rights.
This time around, Pres. Trump will inevitably shift the core philosophy of the U.S. Supreme Court from four liberal and four conservatives with a moderate — retiring Justice Kennedy — as the swing vote. Come fall, the Republican-led Senate is likely to push through a fifth conservative justice. The basic approach of the court’s right wing will be originalism. The 45-year-old abortion case is likely to fall.
Roe v. Wade’s Death Toll
Democrats may shout at the top of their lungs that Roe v. Wade is about a woman’s right to choose. Unfortunately, millions of never-born children are not around to hear them.
When Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973, more than 615,000 abortions were performed in the United States, according to the CDC. The figure rose by about 30,000 from the previous year. But, once the rhetoric about abortion being a form of murder switched to a woman’s right, the amount of legal abortions skyrocketed.
By 1978, more than 1 million abortions were being performed annually. The figure remained over 1 million for 20 years, with a peak of 1,429,247 in 1990. Among the various procedures used was partial-birth abortions. The practice basically killed babies while the mother was dilated, or the child was partial outside the womb.
Abortion doctors would routinely sever the child’s spinal cord to murder the infant. That practice was not fully banned until 2003 by Pres. George W. Bush.
In recent years, more than 600,000 abortions are done each year, and the taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood performs more than half.
Why this Court Will Change Course
The high court is slow to change the precedent set by previous rulings. The abortion case outcome has stood for 45 years.
As Republican Sen. Susan Collins recently said after a discussion with Pres. Trump, “The president really was soliciting my views on the type of nominee that I was looking for. I emphasized that I wanted a nominee who would respect precedent, a fundamental tenet of our judicial system.”
Sen. Collins — a key figure in the nomination process — supported Neil Gorsuch based on his originalist leanings and strong belief in following precedent. She also stands firmly that Roe v. Wade remain the law of the land.
“I want a judge who will apply the law to the facts of the case with fidelity to the Constitution,” Collins reportedly said. “Roe v. Wade is a constitutional right that is well established, and no less an authority than Chief Justice Roberts said that repeatedly at his confirmation hearing.”
“I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law,” she reportedly said.
As odd as it sounds, originalists such as Justice Gorsuch and the expected pick are likely to agree with the abortion precedent while overturning it.
Roe v. Wade Is Done
One of the core aspects of originalist judges is their strong belief in states rights. The U.S. Constitution initially gave the majority of the power to individual states. Pres. Trump also agrees with strong states rights, and he has repeatedly gone on the record saying abortion should be a state and not federal issue.
The president has been adamant that he will not discuss Roe v Wade with the next pick to the high court. But, he seems to hint that the abortion issue is headed back to the states.
“Well, maybe someday it will be to the states. You never know how that’s going to turn out,” Pres. Trump reportedly said. “That’s a very complex question. The Roe v. Wade is probably the one that people are talking about in terms of having an effect. But we will see what happens. But it could very well end up with states at some point.”
Legal experts are predicting that approximately 20 states will pass laws banning abortion once the court has a 5-4 conservative majority. State lawsuits against funding Planned Parenthood are also expected.
Unlike previous years with moderate Justice Kennedy acting as the swing vote, anti-abortion activism and laws are likely to stick. The end of a federally-applied Roe v Wade standard may soon come to an end and abortion may be up to citizens in individual states in the coming years.
~ Liberty Planet