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Trump’s hand in shaping Supreme Court pays off with Roe v. Wade decision





The historic reverberations of Donald Trump’s one term in the Oval Office were evidenced Friday when the three justices he appointed to the Supreme Court tipped the scales to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion.


The landmark decision, which ends the 49-year precedent set in Roe v. Wade, has made the long-held dream of one of Trump’s core constituencies — evangelical Christians and other anti-abortion Republicans — come true. And it further enshrines the historic and political consequences of the 2016 presidential election outcome.

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Trump was quick to claim victory, saying in a statement the decision was “only made possible because I delivered everything as promised.”


With significant help from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and almost every GOP senator, Trump elevated Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — all three of whom helped establish a 5-4 majority in the opinion.


Yet the high court’s newest justices were confirmed after proceedings that shattered norms and only heightened the bitter partisanship surrounding Supreme Court confirmations and the court’s increasingly conservative rulings.

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Trump on Friday embraced the abortion decision, which gives authority to establish abortion law to the states, roughly half of which are seen as certain or very likely to ban abortions.


“This is following the Constitution, and giving rights back when they should have been given long ago,” Trump said on Fox News. He added, “I think, in the end, this is something that will work out for everybody.”


The immediate reaction to the decision, though first telegraphed in May when a draft opinion was leaked, was deeply polarized. Republicans and conservative groups hailed the ruling as protecting the unborn while Democrats vowed to take the matter of women’s reproductive choice to voters in the fall.

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“Because of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party and their super-majority on the Supreme Court, American women today have less freedom than their mothers,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.


House Republican leaders issued a joint statement on the decision.


“Every unborn child is precious, extraordinary, and worthy of protection,” they said. “We applaud this historic ruling, which will save countless innocent lives.

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New Normal?


For Trump’s three justices, the path to confirmation was anything but conventional.


McConnell and Senate Republicans prevented President Barack Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016 — 11 months before Obama’s second term ended.

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McConnell also permanently changed Senate rules to end filibusters in Supreme Court confirmations, enabling Gorsuch to fill the Scalia court seat after a 54-45 vote. Kavanaugh and Barrett, who also were narrowly confirmed, benefited from the same rule change.


In 2018, Kavanaugh’s confirmation process was marred by allegations of sexual assault, including testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who said he assaulted her in high school.


And in 2020, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died less than two months before Election Day, McConnell pushed for Barrett’s speedy confirmation — an abrupt reversal from his stance four years before. She was elevated to the Supreme Court just eight days before the election, resulting in the court’s 6-3 conservative majority.

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“The inconsistency, the hypocrisy, I don’t respect that,” Pelosi told reporters.


Two senators who supported both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said Friday they were dismayed by the court’s abortion decision and felt misled by both justices during their confirmation proceedings, when each said the Roe decision was an established Supreme Court precedent.


“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon,” Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said in a statement.

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Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia also insisted senators were misled.


“I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans,” he said.


Gorsuch, during his 2017 hearings, called the abortion-rights ruling a “precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed.”

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During his own 2018 confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh refused to characterize Roe as “settled law.” But he did acknowledge it was “settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court.”


In her Senate testimony, Barrett refused to say whether she agreed with Scalia, for whom she once clerked, that Roe was wrongly decided. Barrett said she couldn’t “pre-commit” to how she would approach any case that might come before her.


“I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come,” Barrett testified.

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