A chorus of Democratic congressional candidates and incumbent lawmakers are calling for an immediate end to the Senate filibuster and federal legislation that would codify abortion rights following a report that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
On Monday night, Politico published what it said was a draft Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case concerning Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” the purported draft opinion by Alito states, referring to two landmark abortion rulings that created a constitutional right to kill preborn children in America.
Politico’s report caused a political earthquake, with Republicans welcoming the news — but expressing concerns over the unprecedented leak of a Supreme Court majority opinion — and Democrats shrieking their outrage.
“If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years – not just on women but on all Americans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement. “The Republican-appointed Justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history.”
Many Democrats, including several candidates for U.S. Senate, called on the Democratic Senate majority to immediately end the legislative filibuster — a 60-vote requirement to end debate and pass major legislation. They also demanded that Congress pass legislation that would codify abortion rights in federal law, which would prevent state governments from enacting new pro-life laws restricting abortion in the post-Roe America.
“Let’s be clear: The right to an abortion is sacred. Democrats have to act quickly to get rid of the filibuster to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act + finally codify Roe into law,” said Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a candidate for Senate.
“Control of the Senate has never been more important: it’s time to end the filibuster, pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, and fight like hell to make sure all Ohio families are free to make these critical decisions without interference from politicians in Columbus or Washington,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), another Senate candidate.
Others echoed these demands, including Senate candidates in Missouri, Wisconsin, and other states, as well as numerous incumbent House lawmakers.
“Democrats need to end the filibuster, codify Roe, and defend reproductive freedom,” said Wisconsin state treasurer and Democratic Senate candidate Sarah Godlewski.
“Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW. And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“People elected Democrats precisely so we could lead in perilous moments like these- to codify Roe, hold corruption accountable, & have a President who uses his legal authority to break through Congressional gridlock on items from student debt to climate,” added Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
But these demands are not realistic. The 50-50 Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate lacks the votes to end the filibuster because Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are opposed to doing so. And Manchin, a pro-life Democrat, has already voted with Republicans to block legislation that would codify Roe.
There is no reason to believe Manchin is about to reverse his position after he has repeatedly refused to do so under enormous pressure from his colleagues.
President Joe Biden is aware of this, which is why in a statement released Tuesday, the president said that “if the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.”
“At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law,” Biden said.