Biden ‘not prepared’ to support ending Senate filibuster to pass abortion rights law – live | Roe v Wade

Biden ‘not prepared’ to support ending Senate filibuster to pass abortion rights law

We’ve received the full transcript of Joe Biden’s remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews, in which he appears to rule out ending the filibuster to get an abortion rights law through the senate.

Democrats need 60 votes in the chamber, 10 more than they currently have, although they would harbor hopes of persuading moderate Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski over to their side.

Joe Biden speaks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews.
Joe Biden speaks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Overriding the procedural filibuster rule, seen as a nuclear option by congressional watchers, would reduce the requirement to 50 – but Biden says he’s not on board. At least not yet.

“I’m not prepared to make those judgments now,” Biden replied to a reporter’s question asking him directly if the senate should do away with the filibuster to codify the Roe v Wade ruling that gives a constitutional right to abortion.

He did say, however, that such a law “makes a lot of sense”:

Think what Roe says. Roe says what all basic mainstream religions have historically concluded, that the right, that the existence of a human life and being, is a question. Is it at the moment of conception? Is it six months? Is it six weeks?

So the idea that we’re going to make a judgment, that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child based on a decision by the supreme court, I think, goes way overboard.

The Democratic senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has promised a vote in the wake of the supreme court’s draft opinion, although he acknowledges he doesn’t have the votes he needs for it to pass.

The purpose, he said, would ensure “every American is going to see which side every senator stands”.

Biden said he was still looking at the draft ruling, but did not like what he was reading:

It basically says all the decisions related to your private life, who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions, how you raise your child… what does this do?

Does this mean that in Florida they can decide they’re going to pass a law saying that same-sex marriage is not permissible, that it’s against the law in Florida?

It’s a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence if it were to hold.

Kari Paul here, taking over on the West Coast. Stand by for updates.

It’s Richard Luscombe signing off, and handing the blog over to my colleague Kari Paul on the west coast, who will guide you through the rest of the day’s reaction to the stunning news of the supreme court’s reversal on abortion rights.

I’ll leave you with our latest full story on the events of the day. Thanks for joining me.

Lauren Burke

Standing in front of the US supreme court, congressman Don Beyer of Virginia waits for his turn to speak in front of a growing crowd of protestors, some holding purple signs reading “hands off our bodies”.

“We’ve been seeing this coming for quite a while but it’s really devastating when it actually comes. It’s so full of holes. If this is set aside what else can be set aside?” the Democrat told the Guardian.

“There’s so many mixed marriages, interracial marriages right now, are they all going to be illegal?”

Beyer, in a tweet earlier today, said the abortion fight was “on the doorstep” of Virginia, where Republican governor Glenn Youngkin favors restrictions.

Abortion is still legal and will remain a constitutionally protected right under Roe v. Wade until the Supreme Court officially rules otherwise.

But if they do, Virginia’s Governor wants to ban abortion and our General Assembly is narrowly divided. This fight is on our doorstep. https://t.co/TJsnj8bViD

— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) May 3, 2022

Meanwhile, Democratic senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts addressed the crowd to call for the expansion of the number of justices on the supreme court, according to the New York Times.

The crowd broke into a chant of “four more seats!”, the number of new liberal justices that would need to be confirmed to overturn the current 6-3 conservative majority.

A presidential commission to look into the supreme court, including its make-up, was appointed by Joe Biden last year, but according to Politico fizzled out with no recommendation.

Biden, however, is believed to be against so-called court packing.

Here’s a short study (via Twitter) of the reactions of three women state governors, one Republican, the others Democrats, to the supreme court news.

In South Dakota, Republican Kristi Noem is champing at the bit to get the state’s legislature back into session to get an abortion ban on the books:

If this report is true and Roe v. Wade is overturned, I will immediately call for a special session to save lives and guarantee that every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota. https://t.co/oIiGibCP7B

— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) May 3, 2022

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is promising to “fight like hell” to protect access to abortions:

Our work is more important than ever. I’ll fight like hell to protect abortion access in Michigan. https://t.co/RGmAofv8up

— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 3, 2022

Michigan has a 1931 law banning abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest, which would become the default if Roe v Wade is overturned, according to ClickOn Detroit.

The news station says Whitmer has a “decent shot” and getting the law overturned by taking in straight to the state’s supreme court for a ruling.

And in New Mexico, the Democratic governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says today’s developments make steps the state has taken to protect abortion access “more important than ever”.

“Access to abortion is access to health care – and that won’t change here,” she wrote.

The ramifications of this decision would be devastating for New Mexico women.

Today and every day, the action we’ve taken to protect and expand abortion rights in New Mexico is more important than ever.

Access to abortion is access to health care – and that won’t change here. https://t.co/RHoecFsUdS

— Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) May 3, 2022

My colleague Lauren Gambino has taken this look at what the supreme court decision on abortion could mean for the midterm elections later this year:

The stunning revelation that the US supreme court has privately voted to overturn Roe v Wade immediately thrust one of the most polarizing issues in American life to the forefront of the national political debate, and now abortion rights promises to reshape the dynamics of the coming midterm elections.

… “Republicans just gutted Roe v Wade, the Constitution’s guarantee of reproductive freedom, and will ban abortion in all 50 states, if they take over Congress,” the New York congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote on Twitter. “Only Democrats will protect our freedoms. That is now the central choice in the 2022 election.”

Obamas: abortion opinion ‘a blow to women and free society’

Barack Obama has said the supreme court’s draft ruling overturning abortion rights is “a blow not just to women, but to all of us who believe in a free society”.

A statement just released from the former president and first lady Michelle Obama slammed the opinion and called on citizens to stand up with activists in “urging Congress to codify Roe into law”:

Today, millions of Americans woke up fearing that their essential freedoms under the constitution were at risk.

If the supreme court ultimately decides to overturn the landmark case of Roe v Wade, then it will not only reverse nearly 50 years of precedent, it will relegate the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues.

Barack Obama.
Barack Obama. Photograph: Jessica Christian/AP

The statement goes on to spell out what would be lost if Roe v Wade gets reversed:

What Roe recognized is that the freedom enshrined in the 14th Amendment requires all of us to enjoy a sphere of our lives that isn’t subject to meddling from the state – a sphere that includes personal decisions involving who we sleep with, who we marry, whether or not to use contraception, and whether or not to bear children.

The consequences of this decision would be a blow not just to women, but to all of us who believe that in a free society, there are limits to how much the government can encroach on our personal lives.

The Obamas conclude with a call to arms, and a request to voters to show up in the midterm elections later this year:

Join with the activists who have been sounding the alarm on this issue for years and act. Stand with them at a local protest. Volunteer with them on a campaign. Join with them in urging Congress to codify Roe into law and vote alongside them on or before November 8 and in every other election.

Because in the end, if we want judges who will protect all and not just some of our rights, then we’ve got to elect officials committed to doing the same.

Jessica Glenza

Jessica Glenza

More than half of US states will outlaw abortion immediately or as soon as practicable, if a leaked draft decision from five supreme court justices remains substantially unchanged.

The result would send hundreds of thousands of people in 26 states hostile to abortion elsewhere to terminate a pregnancy – either by traveling hundreds of miles to an abortion clinic or seeking to self-manage abortion through medication from grassroots or illicit groups.

Many would also be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

“Abortion is an essential part of reproductive healthcare, and this is going to affect people, even people who think, ‘I will never have an abortion,’” said Dr Nisha Verma, a Darney-Landy fellow with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

On Monday, a draft supreme court decision in arguably the most contentious case in generations was leaked. The case considered whether Mississippi could ban abortion at 15 weeks gestation.

The ban is highly significant because it strikes at the heart of US constitutional protections for abortion. The landmark 1973 decision Roe v Wade established the right for pregnant people to terminate a pregnancy up to the point a fetus can survive outside the womb, roughly considered 24 weeks gestation, and a legal principle called “viability”.

The decision invalidated dozens of state bans, and until the court issues a final decision, prevents states from outlawing abortion before viability. A final decision is expected from the court in late June.

The leaked decision in the Mississippi case, called Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, shows five conservative justices are willing to reverse constitutional protections for abortion on the grounds Roe v Wade was wrongly decided.

If the decision is not substantially changed by the time a final opinion is issued, abortion regulation would be returned to the states where lawmakers across the south and midwest of the US have enacted bans in anticipation of the court’s decision.

Read more:

Biden ‘not prepared’ to support ending Senate filibuster to pass abortion rights law

We’ve received the full transcript of Joe Biden’s remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews, in which he appears to rule out ending the filibuster to get an abortion rights law through the senate.

Democrats need 60 votes in the chamber, 10 more than they currently have, although they would harbor hopes of persuading moderate Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski over to their side.

Joe Biden speaks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews.
Joe Biden speaks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Overriding the procedural filibuster rule, seen as a nuclear option by congressional watchers, would reduce the requirement to 50 – but Biden says he’s not on board. At least not yet.

“I’m not prepared to make those judgments now,” Biden replied to a reporter’s question asking him directly if the senate should do away with the filibuster to codify the Roe v Wade ruling that gives a constitutional right to abortion.

He did say, however, that such a law “makes a lot of sense”:

Think what Roe says. Roe says what all basic mainstream religions have historically concluded, that the right, that the existence of a human life and being, is a question. Is it at the moment of conception? Is it six months? Is it six weeks?

So the idea that we’re going to make a judgment, that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child based on a decision by the supreme court, I think, goes way overboard.

The Democratic senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has promised a vote in the wake of the supreme court’s draft opinion, although he acknowledges he doesn’t have the votes he needs for it to pass.

The purpose, he said, would ensure “every American is going to see which side every senator stands”.

Biden said he was still looking at the draft ruling, but did not like what he was reading:

It basically says all the decisions related to your private life, who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions, how you raise your child… what does this do?

Does this mean that in Florida they can decide they’re going to pass a law saying that same-sex marriage is not permissible, that it’s against the law in Florida?

It’s a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence if it were to hold.

Kamala Harris: Roe opponents ‘want to punish women’

Here’s the vice-president’s statement, published just now to the White House website:

The United States Supreme Court has now confirmed that the draft opinion that would overturn Roe v Wade is genuine.

Roe ensures a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. It also, at its root, protects the fundamental right to privacy. What is clear is that opponents of Roe want to punish women and take away their rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Republican legislators in states across the country are weaponizing the use of the law against women.

The rights of all Americans are at risk. If the right to privacy is weakened, every person could face a future in which the government can potentially interfere in the personal decisions you make about your life. This is the time to fight for women and for our country with everything we have.

Harris is scheduled to speak tonight at the We Are Emily conference and gala in Washington DC, an event celebrating “women taking the lead in defending our democracy and our right to reproductive freedom”.

The U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade is genuine.

Roe v. Wade ensures a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. It is clear that opponents of Roe want to punish women and take away their rights to make decisions about their bodies.

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 3, 2022

David Smith

David Smith

John Roberts, the US chief justice, has announced an investigation into a leak showing that the supreme court provisionally voted to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade case that legalised abortion nationwide.

Chief justice John Roberts.
Chief justice John Roberts. Photograph: Reuters

Publication of the draft opinion by the Politico website on Monday night sparked demonstrations outside America’s highest court, condemnation from Joe Biden and fears that the judiciary has suffered profound damage to its reputation for independence.

In a statement on Tuesday, Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the document written in February and said: “To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed.”

He added: “I have directed the marshal of the court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”

Washington was sent into a whirl of speculation over who was responsible for the biggest leak in the modern history of the court – the judicial equivalent of “Deep Throat”, the FBI source that disclosed secrets about the Watergate scandal – and whether they should be considered a leaker or a whistleblower.

Some said it was probably a law clerk for one of the court’s liberal justices who wants to put Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in the public domain in the hope that, witnessing the fierce backlash, one of the conservatives on the court might change his or her vote.

Others guessed it might be a source on the conservative side wanting the justices to be on record so they will feel locked in and unwilling to change in case they been seen as caving in. A third possible motive was floating the decision early to take the sting out of the final, incendiary announcement expected next month.

Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, said: “It’s unprecedented. Even those few instances where a law clerk, after leaving the court, wrote a ‘tell-all’ book was viewed as unprecedented then, but for a draft opinion in the midst of the process to come out, I can’t think of any single example.”

The source remains a mystery, but Fallone suggested a law clerk is most likely. “They tend to be younger and more passionate. I would assume other staff with access to draft opinions are a little more professional and discreet. But we just don’t know yet.”

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