with Paulina Firozi
Abortion foes say they’re more determined than ever to get President Trump reelected.
They’re fueled by deep frustration at the Supreme Court’s June Medical Services v. Russo decision yesterday striking down a law requiring doctors at Louisiana abortion clinics to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
“Whoever wins this presidency decides the future of abortion law in ways we didn’t realize before,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that works to elect antiabortion female candidates to public office.
Dannenfelser — who supported Trump’s candidacy in 2016 after he signed a pledge to oppose abortion rights in several specific ways — added that activists will “work like hell to reelect this president.”
The Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have left the state with just one abortion clinic.
“As with other recent liberal victories at the court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was key in the 5-to-4 decision,” The Post's Bob Barnes writes. “He joined the court’s liberals rather than his conservative colleagues…It indicated that while he supports restrictions on abortion — his solo opinion in fact tightened a concession won in the Texas case — he is unready at this point to overhaul the court’s jurisprudence supporting the right of a woman to choose the procedure.”
The two Trump high court nominees — Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh — both dissented from the decision, showing they are indeed sympathetic to antiabortion arguments, as abortion rights activists had predicted.
But abortion opponents say they must have a third Trump appointee to start making big legal inroads.
They were sorely disappointed that Roberts sided with the four liberal justices, dismantling their hopes of getting strong judicial backing for clinic regulations that GOP-led states have worked to pass over the past decade. They know the next president will very likely have a chance to fill a potential vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 87 years old and has fought cancer several times.
“What we need is someone of a higher caliber than Roberts,” Dannenfelser told me.
James Bopp Jr., general counsel for National Right to Life, said the decision demonstrates “how important it is that President Trump gets reelected so that he may be able to appoint more pro-life justices. ”
Johnnie Moore, an evangelical adviser to the administration:
This pro-choice SCOTUS decision (where Chief Justice Roberts sided w/the liberal judges) is the "Scalia-moment" of the 2020 election— Rev. Johnnie Moore ن (@JohnnieM) June 29, 2020
Conservatives know they are on the one-yard-line
Enthusiasm is already unprecedented, evangelical turnout will be too. #EvangelicalsForTrump
Trump desperately needs to mobilize his conservative base during one of the lowest points of his presidency.
In recent weeks, Trump has taken a nose dive in public polls amid his administration’s bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic and the divisive manner in which he has addressed the protests against police violence around the country. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is now polling well ahead of the president in battleground states including Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Even Trump’s closest allies are starting to acknowledge the president’s blunders.
“He is losing,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on ABC over the weekend. “And if he doesn’t change course, both in terms of the substance of what he’s discussing and the way that he approaches the American people, then he will lose.”
But the court’s June Medical decision could help mobilize Trump’s base to turn out in November.
The prospect of filling the Supreme Court with conservative-minded justices was a key reason many conservatives who otherwise disliked Trump decided to vote for him. Dannenfelser had been a prominent “never-Trumper” before pivoting.
Sarah Wheaton, a senior health reporter for Politico Europe:
Ironically, this could turn out to be Roberts' gift to Trump's re-election campaign. https://t.co/MP6WTc5hb0— Sarah Wheaton (@swheaton) June 29, 2020
Should Trump have a chance to nominate a third justice, there are plenty of other abortion restrictions in the pipeline that the court may become more likely to uphold.
Nearly two dozen states have passed “pain-capable” laws banning abortion around the midpoint of pregnancy. Several states, including Indiana, Tennessee and Mississippi, have passed bills banning abortions based on the race, sex or disability of a fetus.
So far, the court has declined to hear either issue, but the laws have sparked many legal challenges still winding their way through the judicial system. Dannenfelser said getting those types of laws before the Supreme Court is a top priority — especially if the court included not two but three Trump nominees.
Abortion opponents view Roberts, nominated by President George W. Bush, as lost to their cause.
“He’s like the new Kennedy for us,” said Dannenfelser, referring to Anthony M. Kennedy, the former swing-vote justice who retired in 2018.
Los Angeles Times reporter Jennifer Haberkorn:
Chief Justice Roberts votes with the liberal justices to strike the Louisiana law, a vote that will only further frustrate conservatives.— Jennifer Haberkorn (@jenhab) June 29, 2020
Some anti-abortion activists have been skeptical Roberts would actually reverse Roe if given the chance. This will only fuel that skepticism. https://t.co/IsjnXc48K5
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes:
Boy they are gonna absolutely lose it at Roberts.— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 29, 2020
The conservative group Heritage Action:
Justice Roberts, a so-called “conservative,” is clearly no longer running things — it’s now the Kagan Court.— Heritage Action (@Heritage_Action) June 29, 2020
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio):
What’s next, Chief Justice Roberts? Our Second Amendment rights? https://t.co/aMj3FeT9sQ— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) June 29, 2020
Roberts had actually sided with a similar Texas law, which the court struck down several years ago. But once again he showed his reticence to depart from legal precedent, writing in yesterday’s decision that while he believes the Texas case was “wrongly decided,” he thinks the question now is whether to “adhere to it in the present case.”
“The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons,” Roberts wrote. “Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”
"It was perhaps the most dramatic example of Roberts’s new role as the pivotal member of the court," Bob writes.
The Post’s Paul Kane:
I've never understood conservative legal strategy in pushing another ACA case to this SCOTUS.— Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) June 29, 2020
Senate Rs hate the politics of it, plus Roberts has already upheld ACA twice.
Given this month, he doesn't look like he's about to reverse stride. A 3rd ruling would really lock ACA in
The White House called it an “unfortunate ruling,” but Trump didn’t address it directly.
“The Supreme Court devalued both the health of mothers and the lives of unborn children by gutting Louisiana’s policy that required all abortion procedures be performed by individuals with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
Ahh, oof and ouch
AHH: More government officials are walking back reopening measures.
As cases continue building in Sun Belt states, the optimism surrounding ambitious reopening plans is swiftly dissipating, Antonia Noori Farzan and Rick Noack report.
“Arizona delayed plans to reopen public schools and ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to close on Monday, as the state marked yet another day with a record number of hospitalizations,” they write. “In Los Angeles County, which is at risk of running out of hospital beds in the next two to three weeks, residents are being urged to ‘hunker down’ in their homes and avoid all unnecessary trips.”
Several states have been setting daily records for the seven-day average of new cases. Florida has set a record for each of the past 22 days, South Carolina for 21 days and Texas for 19 days. Yet the administration insists the spread is under control.
“We’re aware that there are embers that need to be put out,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a news briefing.
She cited a decline in mortality rates and the advent of effective drug and other treatments as making “us uniquely equipped to handle the increasing cases that we’ve seen.”
Meanwhile, Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said “there is way too much virus” for the United States to contain it effectively right now. “We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control,” she said in an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association, per CNBC. “We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging.”
OOF: The White House coronavirus task force coordinator says the admininstration wants to work with mayors and governors to start group testing.
On a call yesterday with state governors, coordinator Deborah Birx called Texas and Arizona “significant hot spots" and pointed to New Mexico, Ohio and areas of Wisconsin and Tennessee as places officials are monitoring, CBS News reports.
"We would like to work with those mayors and governors to really deploy some new testing techniques…to really test large populations at the community level," Birx said.
As we first reported last week, task force members are considering a “pool testing” approach that would allow public health officials to test more people more quickly, thereby getting a better sense of where the virus is spreading. They're considering the approach because traditional techniques to isolate and contain cases don't appear to be working as well as they had hoped.
"Although our mortality continues to decline week over week, we believe this week it will stabilize, with the potential of going back up if we don't intervene comprehensively now," Birx told the governors.
OUCH: Jacksonville, Fla., where Trump plans to accept the GOP nomination for reelection, has made mask-wearing mandatory.
Jacksonville, the largest city in Florida and host of the Republican National Convention in late August, announced yesterday that masks will be mandatory in public and indoor locations.
“It is not clear whether the requirement will remain in force at the time of the convention or whether Trump and attendees would abide by it,” Anne Gearan, Brittany Shammas and Lateshia Beachum write. “Republicans announced earlier this month that the premier festivities of their convention would be held in Jacksonville instead of Charlotte, after North Carolina officials balked at Trump’s demand to host a mass gathering amid the pandemic.”
“Trump refuses to wear a mask in public, and his administration has sent mixed signals on the increasingly politicized issue for weeks,” they add. “Few around the president wear masks despite federal guidelines that they be worn as a barrier to the spread of the virus. But the rebound in cases may be changing that.”
House Democrats passed the first significant expansion of the Affordable Care Act in a decade.
“The 234-179 vote, almost entirely along party lines, was a hollow exercise in terms of any chance the bill would become law and reshape federal health policy. Moments after the debate began, the White House announced the president would veto the legislation if it reached his desk, though a wall of Senate Republican opposition to the measure makes that a moot point,” reports my colleague Amy Goldstein.
“The legislation would add to some of the ACA’s central elements by expanding eligibility for insurance subsidies to those at higher incomes and pressuring more than a dozen states to expand Medicaid. It also would blunt some of the ways the Trump administration has watered down the law.”
But it's unlikely to go anywhere, except in allowing Democrats to launch election-year attacks on Republicans and Trump for their unpopular actions to roll back the landmark health-care law.