'It's time for Roe vs Wade to go': Senator named by Trump as potential Supreme Court pick reacts by threatening abortion rights

President vowed his judges would ‘automatically overturn’ Roe v Wade

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Thursday 10 September 2020 22:16
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Trevor Noah criticises Sen. Tom Cotton for labelling slavery a necessary evil
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A conservative Republican named by Donald Trump as a possible pick for the Supreme Court has doubled down on his opposition to abortion and said it is time to scrap a historic ruling that for decades has protected a woman’s right to choose.

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On Wednesday, in what was widely interpreted as a sop to social conservatives and evangelical Christians, the president announced 20 potential justices for the top court, who he claimed would preserve America’s “founding principles”.

On the list were three Republican senators - Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Mr Hawley said in a Twitter post he has “no interest“ in such an appointment.

However, both Mr Cruz and Mr Cotton said they were moved to be considered for such a position.

“I’m honoured that president Trump asked me to consider serving on the Supreme Court and I’m grateful for his confidence. I will always heed the call of service to our nation,” said Mr Cotton.

“The Supreme Court could use some more justices who understand the difference between applying the law and making the law, which the court does when it invents a right to an abortion, infringes on religious freedom, and erodes the Second Amendment.”

Later, he added on Twitter: “It's time for Roe v Wade to go.”

He was referring to a 1973 ruling by the Supreme Court that since then has been used by women’s rights campaigners and others to ensure access to a legal abortion.

Over the years it has been something of a litmus test for potential Supreme Court candidates when being quizzed by Democrats during confirmation heatings as to whether they would defend and observe the judgement.

It has also been a constant target of attack for those opposed to abortion.

When Mr Trump was running for president, he vowed to appoint judges who would “automatically” overturn Roe v Wade. He has since somewhat modified his opinion, saying two years ago the issue ought to be left up to individual states to decide.

It has been at the state level that anti-abortion activists have had their most success, pushing through laws in places such as Mississippi and Kentucky that make it more difficult for women to obtain the service.

Mr Trump, who has appointed two conservative justices to the court - Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh - is keen to lock down his base ahead of the election. In 2016, he secured the backing of 85 per cent of white evangelicals.

Mr Cotton, 43, from Arkansas, was elected to the Senate in 2014 and has long positioned himself as an opponent of abortion.

Earlier this year, he spoke on the floor of the Senate in support of a bill that would have stopped abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“The first bill we're considering, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, when there is clear scientific evidence that these young babies can feel pain in their mother's womb,” he claimed.

Mr Cruz is also a staunch opponent of abortion.

“It's humbling and an immense honour to be considered for the Supreme Court,” he said. “There is no greater responsibility in public service than to support and defend the constitution of the United States.”

Supporters of abortion rights denounced Mr Trump’s list of names.

NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said the shortlist painted “an alarming picture of his dark vision for the future of this country”.

“Make no mistake, this should terrify anyone invested in the integrity of the court and in the fundamental rights and freedoms that we hold dear,” she said.

“We know that an intent to gut Roe v Wade is an explicit litmus test for Trump judicial nominees as the administration seeks to halt progress and advance its broader agenda of power and control."

She added: “Appointing judges with blatant disregard for the precedent of Roe poses an imminent threat to the future of reproductive freedom in this country.”  

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