(The Hill) — Senate Democrats vented their anger and frustration Friday morning in response to the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade, the landmark case establishing a right to an abortion.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has led the Senate Democrats’ battle against conservative Republican judicial nominees for more than 20 years, proclaimed “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,” he said in a statement.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said his panel would hold hearings on what the bombshell ruling will mean for abortion rights and women’s access to health care in states around the country.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee will explore the grim reality of a post-Roe America in a hearing next month,” he said.
“The Court’s decision to erase the right to access an abortion will not only lead to the denial of critical health care services, but also criminal consequences for women and health care providers in states eager to embrace draconian restrictions,” he said.
Other Democrats raced to put out statements in response to the 6-3 ruling, in which all six Republican-appointed justices voted with the majority and the three justices appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama dissented.
“Six radical Supreme Court Justices have overturned nearly 50 years of precedent, stripping away the constitutional right to an abortion. After decades of scheming, Republican politicians have finally forced their unpopular agenda on the rest of America,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a leading progressive, said in a statement.
Warren’s reference to “decades of scheming” laid bare the lingering frustration and anger many Democratic senators feel over Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) handling of the Senate confirmation process, which he used to keep Obama nominee Merrick Garland off the court in 2016 and to speed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett through the confirmation process shortly before the 2020 election.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also took a shot at McConnell use of political power to shape the court.
“Today, the Republican-controlled Supreme Court has achieved the GOP’s dark and extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions,” Pelosi said. “Because of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party and their supermajority on the Supreme Court, American women today have less freedom than their mothers.”
McConnell on Friday lauded the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, as “courageous and correct.”
“This is an historic victory for the Constitution and for the most vulnerable in our society,” he said.
The GOP leader compared the Dobbs decision to the court reversing its 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation.
“The Court has corrected a terrible legal and moral error, like when Brown v. Board overruled Plessy v. Ferguson,” McConnell said. “The Justices applied the Constitution. They carefully weighed the complex factors regarding precedent. The Court overturned mistaken rulings that even liberals have long admitted were incoherent, restoring the separation of powers”
Democrats warned of what they say are now the “very real and dangerous consequences” for women seeking abortions in some states.
“After today, we will see the very real and dangerous consequences across the country of taking away the right to safe and legal abortions,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
“It’s on all of us – Members of Congress, medical professionals, advocates, and voters – to stand up against this nightmare vision of people forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will. Each one of us should have the freedom to live our lives without politicians forcing their way into our bedrooms and exam rooms,” he said.
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, called out conservatives who applauded the decision as hypocrites for often touting limited government and now rallying around a court decision that will give state governments vastly more power over women’s health care and family planning decisions.
“For years I have heard Republicans in the Senate talk about limited government, about their worries that government interferes too much with our daily lives. Today, I ask them, is there any more significant interference than that of getting between a woman, or any person, and their health care choices? This is hypocrisy of the highest order,” he said.
Even centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who describes himself as “pro-life,” said he was disappointed in the court’s decision.
“I am deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. It has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years and was understood to be settled precedent,” he said.
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“I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans,” he said, referring to his votes for Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, then-President Trump’s nominees to the court in 2017 and 2018.