Despite President Joe Biden’s promise of a “whole-of-government” response to Texas’ new abortion law and the Supreme Court’s decision not to block it, Democrats are hamstrung to fight back, the Washington Examiner reported Friday.
For starters, Biden largely is powerless to take unilateral action regarding legal abortion, according to reproductive, family, and sexuality issues legal scholar Mary Ziegler.
“There is very little Biden can do on his own, beyond weighing in as an amicus about how the [Supreme] Court should react,” Ziegler, a Florida State University professor, told the Examiner.
“Otherwise, he needs Congress to do something like passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. But even then, the Supreme Court could strike down a federal law if it chose.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pledged Thursday to vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act after lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., in little more than two weeks.
That proposed bill prohibits states from imposing what critics describe as burdensome abortion restrictions.
However, Senate Republicans likely will filibuster the Women’s Health Protection Act in a chamber split evenly along party lines. Also, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., could vote against it.
“All of this will put far more pressure on the issue of expanding or reforming the [Supreme] Court,” Ziegler said.
Progressives quickly reacted to Texas’ new law and the Supreme Court’s decision not to block it as reasons for expanding the bench.
Liberal activist group MoveOn sent an email to supporters Thursday and called on Biden to appoint new justices to “rebalance” the Supreme Court “against the stolen seats and unprecedented right-wing power grabs.”
“Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced the Judiciary Act of 2021 to do just that — and more Democrats need to sign on to this legislation,” the group said.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., called on Democrats to abolish the Senate filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.
“Republicans promised to overturn Roe v Wade, and they have,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Democrats can either abolish the filibuster and expand the court, or do nothing as millions of peoples’ bodies, rights, and lives are sacrificed for far-right minority rule.
“This shouldn’t be a difficult decision.”
Biden’s 30-person Supreme Court commission is due to report its nonbinding reform recommendations by Oct. 6, the Examiner said.
“The president’s view on the expansion of courts has not changed,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday, alluding to Biden’s opposition to packing the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court currently has six justices nominated by Republican presidents and three by Democrat presidents.