Vermont Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders pledged on Sunday to nominate only Supreme Court justices who support Roe V. Wade, the Supreme Court decision upholding abortion rights, The Hill reports. His remarks were made on NBC’s Meet the Press.
“If you’re asking me would I ever appoint a Supreme Court justice who does not believe in defending Roe vs. Wade, who does not believe that a woman has the right to control her own body, I will never do that,” Sanders said.
Also during his Meet the Press appearance, the senator sharply criticized the historically restrictive anti-abortion law just passed in the state of Alabama, where the only permissible abortions will be cases where there is a threat to a woman’s life due to complications from the pregnancy. The Alabama bill includes no exception for rape or incest, a provision that was added as an amendment, but ultimately voted down. Doctors participating in abortions in Alabama, as well as the woman herself, could face up to 99 years in prison.
“What they did in Alabama was unbelievable,” he said. “The idea that women in this country should not be able to control their own bodies is beyond belief.”
The commitment by Sanders to prioritize Roe v. Wade in making his Supreme Court picks echoes similar sentiments expressed by a number of other primary contenders for 2020.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said last week that she would only appoint justices with thinking in line with Roe v. Wade. Similarly, Senator Cory Booker indicated that he would do the same.
In Alabama, @BernieSanders echoes his point from @MeetThePress today that he’ll have a “litmus test” for SCOTUS nominees: “I will not appoint anyone to the U.S. Supreme Court unless that man or woman is prepared to defend Roe v. Wade.” pic.twitter.com/gUFoWqiR9n— Kailani Koenig (@kailanikm) May 19, 2019
In the face of a recent trend of pro-life states passing highly restrictive abortion bills similar to Alabama’s, advocates and pro-choice proponents have doubled down on their commitment to protecting access to abortion across the country. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, and other advocacy groups continue to organize in opposition, with a variety of legal challenges expected to unfold in the weeks and months to come.
Strategists have pointed out that in some cases, the passing of such bills may have less to do with lawmaking and more to do with setting up a Supreme Court challenge. Following President Donald Trump’s appointment of two conservative justices, many anti-abortion advocates see their opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade with the help of the now right-leaning Supreme Court.
If successful, an overturning of that precedent would upend what has been the law of the land across the country since 1974.