WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday night, protesters began gathering outside the Supreme Court within an hour after the news broke of a leaked draft decision revealing that the high court had voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 decision that protects abortion rights in the United States.
“I’m here to stand beside every person with a uterus who’s being attacked, because they’re not stopping with them,” said writer Charlotte Clymer. “They’re coming after all marginalized people, and if we don’t prevent them from moving forward with this heinous and ridiculous ruling and let it become part of law, we’re not doing what we need to be doing for the most vulnerable people in our society.”
Abortion protest on the steps of the Supreme Court, May 2, 2022.
— Latino Rebels (@latinorebels) May 3, 2022
“This is about a lot more than abortion,” President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “What are the next things that are going to be attacked?”
“As we’ve warned, SCOTUS isn’t just coming for abortion – they’re coming for the right to privacy Roe rests on, which includes gay marriage + civil rights,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted Monday.
By midnight on Monday, the crowd in front of the Supreme Court had grown to several hundred, mostly chanting in favor of women’s reproductive rights.
“These people are committed,” Clymer said. “They want to see change happen in our country. They want to see people protected and I guarantee you there are going to be events all throughout the country moving forward. This is going to be a very tense summer.”
Union organizer Sydney Householder said it was time to “push states to not be such bastards” when it comes to reproductive health policy.
“A lot of states have terrible abortion laws pending,” Householder noted, “and so I hope that this leaked decision creates enough of a swell which was probably the purpose of the leak, to galvanize people around the issue.”
Around 500 anti-abortion pieces of legislation are pending or have been passed in more than 40 states, according to NBC News.and
“The legislation ranges in scope, from access limits, counseling requirements and parental consent, to outright bans to bans on medication abortions or the mailing of abortion pills,” they write
On Tuesday, the crowd in front of the Supreme Court had grown to thousands of protesters.
Pro-choice protest in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2022.
— Latino Rebels (@latinorebels) May 4, 2022
Across 1st Street in the Senate, Democrats agreed that the leak would help mobilize voters, but most shied away from commenting on how they would capitalize on the news.
“I don’t know. It’s the kind of thing that’s still so fresh, I don’t know what the political implications are,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) admitted. “I know the real-life horror that’s going to be visited upon millions of Americans. It shouldn’t be real.”
“Our job over the last few months has been to try to impart to folks the reality that Roe was very likely to be overturned,” Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said Wednesday on MSNBC, adding that elected officials will not have to answer to their constituents as to “why they are not taking votes to support access to safe abortion.”
Justices Neal Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh misled the public about their views on Roe v. Wade during their respective confirmation hearings, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters after a floor speech on Tuesday, where he decried Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) and the political right’s focus on the leak of the decision itself, rather than the substance of the decision to undermine abortion rights.
WH Press Sec. Jen Psaki calls out Republicans for focusing on the SCOTUS leak instead of the contents of the leak:
“Maybe not a surprise given by more than a 2-to-1 margin, Americans want the Supreme Court to support abortion rights.” pic.twitter.com/9CObggEXO0
— The Recount (@therecount) May 4, 2022
“This lawless action should be investigated and punished to the fullest extent possible, the fullest extent possible,” McConnell said of the leaked draft during a floor speech on Tuesday.
Reporters asked Durbin if there were any recourse for misleading the public during public testimony for a Supreme Court nomination.
“It’s a lifetime appointment,” said Durbin. “If you look at the history of the Supreme Court, there are so many individuals either expressing opinions different from what they expressed in court cases or just changed over the years dramatically. You can’t stop that any more than you can change a senator from changing his position on an issue.”
The leaked draft is not a decision, but without codifying the abortion protections of Roe v. Wade in Congress, the actual decision could come at any time. Until then, the abortion protections in Roe remain in place but are likely doomed by the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised a response to the impending decision, in the form of legislation that would codify the protections in Roe v. Wade.
“I think we need to once again bring the Women’s Health Protection Act up for a vote that would guarantee that Roe v. Wade would be the law of the land,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) told CBS News on Tuesday.
In September, in response to an abortion ban in Texas, the House voted 218 to 211 on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which establishes the right to abortion at the federal level. But in February, the bill fell 14 votes needed to bring the bill to the floor for consideration.
“One Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, joined all Republicans in opposition to beginning debate on the measure,” the New York Times reported.
— Willy Lowry (@willy_lowry) May 3, 2022
Without filibuster reform, Congressional Democrats must overcome a 60-vote threshold in the Senate, which seems unlikely. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) have remained steadfastly opposed to filibuster reform, arguing that eliminating the filibuster to pass a Democratic agenda will only empower future Republican majorities.
“The filibuster is a protection of democracy,” Manchin told reporters on Tuesday.
“While Sinema is supportive of abortion rights, her spokesperson said her views on preserving the filibuster are unchanged and pointed to seven Senate votes where a 60-vote threshold ultimately protected abortion rights,” reported Alayna Treene at Axios.
Meanwhile, the protest in front of the Supreme Court continues to grow.
“This is gonna be a long week,” remarked a Capitol Police officer on the scene.
“This is gonna be a long month,” added another.
Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports