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Supreme Court ‘set a torch’ to last of its legitimacy with Roe reversal, Elizabeth Warren argues

Written by on June 27, 2022

Win McNamee/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court has “burned whatever legitimacy they may still have had” with their ruling last week overturning Roe v. Wade, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Sunday.

“They just took the last of it and set a torch to it,” Warren, a Democrat, told ABC “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz in an exclusive interview. “I believe we need to get some confidence back in our court and that means we need more justices on the United States Supreme Court. We’ve done it before, we need to do it again.” (Warren has previously called for expanding the number of justices, including in an op-ed in The Boston Globe in December.)

In a Friday decision, the high court overturned the landmark holding in Roe, instead ruling that there was no constitutional guarantee to abortion access. Justices voted five to four to reject Roe and six to three in favor of Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, in the underlying case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The reversal was widely celebrated by anti-abortion lawmakers and advocates but sparked protests across the country and drew condemnation by Warren and other leading Democrats.

In the days since the decision, at least eight states have outlawed abortion and in the coming weeks a total of 26 states are expected to ban or severely restrict it, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group focusing on sexual and reproductive health.

Raddatz asked Warren on “This Week” why abortion should not just be decided by individual states and their elected officials, rather than ensured as a constitutional right.

“‘Go to the polls,’ you say. President [Joe] Biden says, ‘Go to the polls.’ But look at the states outlawing abortion,” Raddatz pressed. “Those are largely conservative states, Gov. [Kristi] Noem had a point there — people go to the polls. They went to the polls just like your constituents in Massachusetts where abortion is legal, so why not leave it to the states?”

“We have never left individual rights to the states. The whole idea is that women are not second-class citizens and the government is not the one that will decide about the continuation of a pregnancy,” Warren responded. “Access to abortion, like other medical procedures, should be available across the board to all people in this country.”

Warren also called for Biden to use his available tools to “make abortion as available as possible, including medication abortion and using federal lands as a place where abortion can occur.”

She urged people to vote “like a laser on the election in November” and elect lawmakers who will codify Roe, which is a priority among some Democrats but doesn’t have the 60 votes needed to avoid a Senate filibuster.

“We [need to] get two more senators on the Democratic side, two senators who are willing to protect access to abortion and get rid of the filibuster so that we can pass it,” Warren said. “John Fetterman, I’m looking at you in Pennsylvania. Mandela Barnes, I’m looking at you in Wisconsin. We bring them in, then we’ve got the votes, and we can protect every woman no matter where she lives.”

Warren said she was also “deeply concerned” about Justice Clarance Thomas’ opinion last week that agreed with overturning Roe but also called on the high court to go on to reject its past rulings on contraception and gay marriage.

“I understand that the rest of the court said, ‘No, no, we’re not going there,’ but remember how we got to where we are,” Warren said. “When Roe v. Wade first came down, there was a tiny minority that really put a lot of energy in effect for themselves and for Republicans, putting Roe on the ballot over and over.”

Raddatz asked Warren whether the Supreme Court Senate confirmation process should change, given that some justices who joined to overturn Roe had said at their hearings and elsewhere it was settled law or respected precedent.

“Sen. Susan Collins, who voted for Justice Kavanaugh, as well as Joe Manchin, have said they were misled. Do you think the process should change, now, of confirming justices?” Raddatz asked.

“I understand that Justice Kavanaugh — I don’t know what he said to Sen. Collins, I wasn’t in the room,” Warren said, referring to a private meeting between the two. “But I do know this: that the Republicans have been very overt about trying to get people through the court who didn’t have a published record on Roe but who they knew, wink, wink, nod, nod, were going to be extremist on the issue of Roe v. Wade and that is exactly what we have ended up with.”

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