View Original Notice ? L.A. County area political leaders sound off on Roe v. Wade ‘draft decision’
Los Angeles-area congressional leaders sounded off on what appears to be the U.S. Supreme Court’s imminent strike-down of the nearly 50-year-old right to abortion, as Democrats signaled a re-energized battle in Congress to defend such rights.
It wasn’t long before local elected leaders sounded off Monday and Tuesday as news spread that the Court’s majority had penned an opinion in a case before it — Dobbs v. Mississippi Department of Health — that reversed its landmark opinion, Roe v. Wade, in 1973.
That 1973 decision, long considered the settled law of the land but always a topic of debate, made abortion a federally protected right under the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution. Under an initial draft of the opinion leaked to Politico, which published the opinion Monday night, that right goes away — leaving it to states to allow it or not.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” the draft opinion states. It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.
“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito opines.
If that happens, at least 26 states are likely to outlaw abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy group.
While the leaked opinion was only an initial draft of the Court’s reasoning — they often go through several revisions, and this one has not yet been published — it still wasn’t sitting well in a mostly blue county like Los Angeles, where Democrats fill most of the region’s congressional seats.
“I’m appalled by the decision — or this draft decision. It really vindicated my worst fears,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, after touring Para Los Niños early childhood education center in Hollywood Tuesday.
Schiff, like many Democrats on Tuesday, hearkened back to Supreme Court confirmation hearings when they said they counted on pledges that the conservative justices — then nominees for the highest Court — would respect precedent.
“The truth is that they couldn’t care less about precedent,” Schiff said. “This is not a conservative court in a constitutional, legal sense. It is a partisan court with a partisan agenda.”
U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, who hails from L.A., echoed that point in a bluntly worded statement.
“Make no mistake: the legitimacy of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance,” he said Tuesday. “The Court’s power rests in the faith that the American people place in it. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it’s hard to see how the American people can trust this Supreme Court to protect other fundamental rights.”
In the Capitol, furious Senate Democrats vowed Tuesday to vote on legislation to protect abortion access for millions of Americans. But without broader support from Republicans Congress is essentially powerless to prevent the unraveling of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the conservative justices “lied” to the Senate during confirmation hearings when they assured senators that the case which since 1973 has allowed abortion access was settled law.
The Congress can do little to stop the court from undoing Roe v. Wade unless more Republicans join Democrats in voting to protect abortion access, which is highly unlikely. Schumer said the Senate would vote next week on emerging legislation. But facing a certain filibuster by Republicans, the Democrats signaled they prefer to fight over the issue on the campaign trail this fall, rather than in Congress. The House is away this week.
While Democrats took aim at the apparent decision, Republicans — with the exception of two — spent much of Tuesday taking aim at the leak itself.
Two Republican senators who publicly support abortion access, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, but have voted to confirm conservative justices, both vented their frustrations at the court’s draft document and pushed their own bill to turn the Roe v. Wade ruling into law.
But Southern California Republican Darrell Issa homed in on the media leak, and the court’s integrity.
“The Supreme Court of the United States embodies more than just America’s highest judicial power,” he said. “It holds a sacred trust that is bound up in our nation’s highest ideals. After yesterday’s media leak of a draft opinion, however, that confidence is deeply shaken.”
Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak “a singular and egregious breach,” and he’s asked officials to investigate.
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, could not be reached for comment, and his twitter accounts were silent on the issue.
But in a signal of how the draft decision could elevate abortion rights to the top of issues in an election year, Garcia — in a midterm race in a purple district — was already the target of Democrats. They slammed him on Tuesday for signing onto an amicus brief supporting the petitioner in the Dobbs case and asking the Court to reconsider Roe and its follow-up case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in 1992.
California lawmakers vowed to go further on Tuesday by becoming among the first to guarantee a right to an abortion in a state constitution.
California already uses taxpayer money to pay for some abortions through its Medicaid program. And it requires private insurance companies to cover abortions while stopping them from charging things like co-pays and deductibles for the procedure.
But that didn’t stop protests from emerging across the United States on Tuesday, from Long Beach and Los Angeles to D.C.
In Long Beach, upwards of 100 people marched through Downtown Long Beach to the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in protest of the draft decision.
“When we found out what was going on, we automatically all felt that it was a pressing issue,” one La F.U.E.R.Z.A. organizer, who declined to give their name, said outside the courthouse. “As students, as folks who are powerful, we decided to take up a collective action and come here to the court house.”
In D.C., Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, took to the steps of the Supreme Court itself to speak to protesters.
He echoed concern that the opinion as drafted signals that other rights, gleaned from the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, might also be re-examined.
“This is first and foremost about the right of all Americans to have control over their privacy and to have control over their bodies,” he said. “If you read this opinion, it is an attack on the rights we’ve come to enjoy over the last 50 years, birth control, LGBTQ+ and of course a women’s right to choose,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.