As the Senate prepared Wednesday for Democrats’ effort to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) likened a potential reversal of Roe to the infamous Dred Scott case.
An unprecedented leak of a draft opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito from the Supreme Court last week suggested that the court may soon strike down its 1973 decision in Roe that legalized abortion nationwide. The draft is from the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which concerns a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. Mississippi’s defense of its law directly challenged Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
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In response to the leaked document, which the chief justice said is authentic but does not represent the court’s final ruling, Senate Democrats brought legislation to the floor they said would codify the standard set by Roe into federal law. But the effort appears doomed, as Democrats cannot meet the 60-vote filibuster threshold to advance the bill. Critics of the bill have argued that the bill would stretch beyond what Roe currently permits by overriding state-level restrictions that courts have held up with Roe still in place.
In remarks to reporters, Hoyer said he opposed undoing Roe, comparing a reversal to the court’s ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford. That 1857 decision, considered by many legal scholars the worst in the court’s history, found that enslaved people were not citizens of the United States and that Congress had no authority to ban slavery from U.S. territories. The decision was later overturned by the 13th and 14th amendments.
In a tweet, Hoyer wrote that the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe “goes against the will of the American people.”
The leaked SCOTUS draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade goes against the will of the American people. Recent polling shows a bipartisan majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe & support women's access to the full range of reproductive health care. https://t.co/TkrklnYCvn— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) May 11, 2022
“Recent polling shows a bipartisan majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe & support women's access to the full range of reproductive health care,” he wrote.
Hoyer also told reporters he would consider legislation to protect Supreme Court justices after concerns were raised about their safety in response to news of the leak.
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“We need to protect Supreme Court justices and their families,” he said. “We're a nation of laws, not violence, not of intimidation. We're a nation of laws.”