Conservative groups see abortion decision as catalyst to reelect Trump

“This ruling adds a new level of fervor and enthusiasm for the election,” said Mallory Quigley, a spokeswoman for Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion advocacy group. “We always knew that we needed a bigger margin on the court, and whoever wins these elections will probably have the opportunity to appoint additional judges. Making sure it’s President Trump and not Joe Biden is essential. “

The Trump administration showed Monday that it would also promote that message. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted“After today’s disappointing SCOTUS decision, one thing is clear: We need more conservative judges on the United States Supreme Court.”

The ruling “reveals how essential the presidency is to judicial appointments,” said a senior administration official. “For many conservatives, they will say, ‘This is why we have two Trump judges, and they did it legally.'”

Of course, the ruling is unlikely to energize conservatives. Progressive and Democratic lawmakers insisted Monday that the decision would also motivate their base, arguing that the strict ruling, aided by the vote of Conservative Supreme Court President John Roberts, showed how precarious abortion rights were under the presidency. from Trump.

While Republicans have historically been more successful in making Supreme Court control an electoral issue, progressive activists have held onto the issue since Trump took office. In several competitive races in the Senate, for example, abortion rights groups have vowed to defeat Republican headlines by their votes to confirm Trump’s two Supreme Court elections, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Within hours of Monday’s ruling, abortion rights group NARAL published an announcement calling for the removal of Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) for her vote for Kavanaugh. The video shows Collins defending her vote arguing that Kavanaugh promised her she would abide by the judicial precedent on abortion, a promise that critics say was broken by her vote Monday to overturn the Supreme Court precedent in. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

“Since Judge Kavanaugh did exactly what we anticipate he would do, we must ensure that we are choosing true election champions who are willing to take tough votes, particularly around the judges,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action. Fund, which advocates legal abortion and reproductive rights.

Collins responded with a statement saying Kavanaugh “gave no indication in his dissenting opinion that he supported the annulment Roe. “

Trump’s choice to nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court has long been a political cry from the right.

But in recent weeks, conservatives have faced a series of losses in the higher court, questioning the strategy’s success up to this point. In addition to Monday’s ruling, the Supreme Court also recently upheld workplace discrimination protections for gay and transgender people and blocked the president from ending a program that protects immigrants from deportation who had been brought illegally. to the country when they were children.

“So far we are not doing so well,” Trump admitted in an interview with Christian Broadcast Network last week. “He says, look, we’ve had a lot of losses with a court that was supposed to be in our favor.”

The Supreme Court’s last mandate has been “devastating” for religious conservatives, said Sen. Josh Hawley (Republican of Mo-R), a former Roberts employee who recently questioned the process of investigating candidates for the Supreme Court. “This goes back to my question about what we are doing to see that we really do have pro-constitutional judges,” he said in an interview Monday.

Other conservatives feared that Monday’s abortion ruling, after other losses, could demoralize people who voted for Trump specifically because of his promises to judges. They are developing messages specifically to counter any possible defection.

“Conservatives should not be discouraged: These decisions demonstrate the importance of nominating and confirming good judges,” said Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action, the political advocacy arm of the DC think tank that is investing heavily in voter mobilization. republicans. “Without the judges nominated by President Trump, today’s decision could have been 7-2 instead of 5-4.”

Since entering politics, Trump, who in 1999 said he was “very pro-abortion,” has courted voters against abortion rights, including many in the evangelical community. And as the president’s overall number of polls has declined in recent weeks, amid national unrest over racial injustice, as well as a pandemic that has killed more than 125,000 Americans and left millions out of work Those voters are increasingly crucial to the political survival of the President.

In addition to promoting his court appointments, Trump has reminded conservatives that he expanded Mexico City policy, cutting off foreign aid to groups that referred people for abortions. It has separately designated a new federal rule that prohibits federal family planning funds from going to Planned Parenthood and other abortion service providers. Trump was also the first acting president to tackle the March for Pro-Life.

A Gallup poll earlier this year he discovered that dissatisfaction with abortion laws was at its highest point. But people were divided on whether they wanted more restrictions on abortion or more laws that allowed access to legal abortion.

Trump’s anti-abortion allies say Monday’s ruling shows how close they are to nullifying abortion rights.

“We are now on the 5-yard line and this is not the time to quit smoking, it is time to redouble our efforts,” said Ralph Reed, a Trump replacement and co-founder of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition. “If Donald Trump is reelected and gets one or two more appointments, we have a good chance of having a pro-life majority in the Supreme Court.” If he is defeated and Biden becomes president, we lose that opportunity for a generation. “

But focusing on the closeness of the decision could narrow both sides, which could motivate progressive voters to see Monday’s ruling narrowly dodge a bullet rather than secure a solid victory.

“It could easily have been the other way around,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Leader of the House’s Caucus Pro-Choice, said in an interview. “There was only one vote in the balance, and she decided on a technicality. If another of these challenges makes it to the Supreme Court, who knows how Judge Roberts could vote?

Other progressives emphasized that dozens of other abortion cases were making their way through a federal pipeline that now has 200 judges appointed by Trump. Either case could go to the Supreme Court and allow judges to visit him again. Roe v. Wade, the historical case that guaranteed women’s access to legal abortion almost 50 years ago.

As November approaches, both sides of the heated debate are increasing their electoral work.

The SBA List, which has pledged to spend at least $ 52 million to support anti-abortion candidates, has volunteers who work at phone banks in key states. Recently, when coronavirus pandemic blockades began to lift, the group again conducted an in-person survey in North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Montana, and Michigan, states that could decide to control the White House and the Eastern Senate. fall.

Heritage Action is also investing resources in changing states. Starting this week, it plans to knock 200,000 doors in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. It will soon launch digital ads in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and South Carolina.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund recently backed Biden and several Democratic challengers in the key Senate elections and plans to spend at least $ 45 million to attract voters this fall, triple what the group spent in the federal election in 2016.

As happened in 2018 when Democrats regained the House, control of the courts and the implications for abortion rights will be front and center in the group’s message.

“We have an opportunity to really educate voters about what is at stake in the coming years,” said McGill Johnson of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “We just saw the Trump administration confirm its 200th judge, and it was someone who would revoke Roe. “

Marianne LeVine and Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.

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