“I call on everyone, no matter how deeply they care about this decision, to keep all protests peaceful. Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful — no intimidation,” Biden said in a speech at the White House. “Violence is never acceptable. Threats and intimidation are not speech. We must stand against violence in any form regardless of your rationale.”
Moments earlier, Biden tore into the five conservative justices who voted to overturn the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, reserving special vitriol for “three justices named by one president, Donald Trump, who are the core of today’s decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country.”
“The court has done what has never done before, expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that it had already been recognized,” the president added.
Biden took no questions from reporters and the White House canceled its daily briefing with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre as activists on both sides of the issue gathered near the Supreme Court.
The bombshell decision was cheered by abortion opponents who believe the practice is murder and for decades sought to overturn Roe, but it was denounced by abortion rights activists as government interference with women’s bodily autonomy.
Biden echoed attempts by Democratic leaders in Congress to make the November midterm election a referendum on abortion rights, which polls show most Americans support, while claiming many other rights now are at risk.
“This fall, we must elect more senators and representatives who will codify a woman’s right to choose into federal law once again,” Biden said.
“State laws banning abortion are automatically taking effect today, jeopardizing the health of millions of women, some without exceptions … so extreme that women and girls were forced to bear their rapist’s child.”
“This fall, Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty and equality — they are all on the ballot,” Biden said, adding that the federal government would fight to protect legal access to the FDA-approved pill mifepristone that he said can “safely end early pregnancies,” as well as to ensure that women can cross state lines to get an abortion.
Although Biden said the decision “casts a dark shadow over large swaths of the land,” as a senator he actually voted in 1982 for the same outcome via a proposed constitutional amendment that would have returned abortion policy to states. At the time, Biden cited his Catholic upbringing.
A draft version of the landmark anti-abortion opinion by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked last month to Politico, meaning both sides of the debate had almost two months to brace for its impact.
A group calling itself Jane’ Revenge is calling for a “night of rage” to begin at 8 p.m. following the ruling, which the White House condemned this week.
Biden last week signed a bill to establish round-the-clock security for Supreme Court justices and members of their families after protesters associated with the group Ruth Sent Us descended on the homes of the court’s six conservative justices in response to the leak.
On June 8, Nicholas Roske, 26, allegedly called 911 on himself to say he had a gun and knife near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland after finding the address online. He is charged with attempted murder.
The abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involved a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a concurring opinion saying he would have upheld the state law without overturning Roe v. Wade, while the court’s three justices nominated by Democratic presidents dissented.
Ahead of the ruling, Biden repeatedly described the overturning of abortion rights as likely to have broader consequences that could undermine other court decisions, such as rulings that established the legal right to use contraception and marry someone of the same sex.
Biden even said last month that the looming ruling might allow for schools to segregate gay students.
Alito’s final opinion said there was “unfounded fear” about the potential overturning of precedent established by “Griswold (contraception), Eisenstadt (same), Lawrence (sexual conduct with member of the same sex), and Obergefell (same-sex marriage)” as a result of the decision.
But conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurrence that “in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswald, Lawrence and Obergefell.”
Democrats immediately sought to use the ruling as a rallying cry ahead of the November midterm elections, in which polls show Republicans are favored to retake control of Congress due to public anger over the worst inflation since 1981.
“The Republicans are plotting a nationwide abortion ban. They cannot be allowed to have a majority in the Congress to do that,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference. “Reproductive freedom is on the ballot in November. We cannot allow them to take control so that they can institute their goal, which is to criminalize reproductive freedom.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “Today is one of the darkest days our country has ever seen… These justices, appointed by Republicans and presiding without any accountability, have stolen a fundamental right to have an abortion away from American women in this country.”
Schumer went on, “Today’s decision makes crystal clear the contrast as we approach the November elections: elect more MAGA Republicans if you want nationwide abortion bans, the jailing of women and doctors and no exemptions for rape or incest. Or, elect more pro-choice Democrats to save Roe and protect a woman’s right to make their own decisions about their body, not politicians.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, said the court’s decision was “courageous and correct,” and a “historic victory for the Constitution and the most vulnerable in our society.”
Trump himself took credit for the decision, saying in a statement that it was “only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.”
The House of Representatives last year passed a bill to establish a national right to abortion, but the Senate last month failed to do the same. Two Senate Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — support abortion rights, but said that bill went too far. Most policy bills require 60 votes in the Senate, meaning even though a majority of senators support abortion rights, a bill might not pass without changes to Senate rules.