Republicans worked for years to end abortion rights. Let them own that now that they’ve succeeded

Republicans worked for years to end abortion rights. Let them own that now that they’ve succeeded

August 4, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson was enthusiastically on board with the packing of the court. “I strongly agree that the American people should decide the future direction of the Supreme Court by their votes for president and the majority party in the U.S. Senate,” he said in 2016 of replacing Scalia. In the same year he also said, “In the politicized atmosphere of an election year, you probably shouldn’t even nominate someone.”

In 2020, he insisted things were completely different. Those were two of the votes for overturning Roe v. Wade. Another, of course, was Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who Johnson supported despite credible allegations of sexual assault.

In 2016, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio publicly opposed replacing Scalia during the last 10 months of Obama’s term even before McConnell made that his official strategy.

I don’t think we should be moving forward with a nominee in the last year of this president’s term,” he said, insisting, “I would say that even if it was a Republican president.” In 2020 Rubio may have recognized the slippery spot he was in, because it took him a couple of days to go public with his new logic. 

In 2016, President Obama exercised his Constitutional duty and nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, and the Senate exercised its Constitutional obligation and decided not to consent,” Rubio said. “Now, President Trump should exercise his duty to name a nominee. And the Senate should once again exercise its Constitutional obligation and decide whether or not to consent to his choice.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley was actually chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2016 when Republicans refused to even hold hearings or a vote on replacing Scalia. He didn’t just participate, he was a leader in the blockade, insisting it was a principled move. In 2020, no longer the committee chair, he had no problem voting on a rushed replacement for Ginsburg.

Johnson, Rubio, and Grassley played a critical role in creating the Supreme Court that overturned Roe. They own this. 

Also on the ballot in battleground state Senate elections this November will be several candidates endorsed by Trump, who personally chose three of the justices who ended abortion rights in this country. Trump’s endorsement played a key role in making J.D. Vance and Mehmet Oz the Republican nominees in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He endorsed Rep. Ted Budd very early on in the North Carolina Senate primary. These candidates owe their current standing to Trump.

Overturning Roe v. Wade and banning abortion in state after state—and ultimately the nation as a whole—has been a Republican goal for a long time. Virtually every Republican currently in the Senate has played a part in making that happen, and the nominees running for open seats are looking for their chance to play a part in the next step, and the one after that. In some states, like Kansas, Kentucky, and Michigan, voters get a chance to directly and specifically set state policy on abortion. But in every state with a competitive Senate race, and every district with a competitive House race, voters get a chance to choose between candidates who will restrict abortion rights or candidates who will work to protect them.

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