POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Justice Kennedy’s retirement spurs speculation of reversal of Roe v. Wade

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

“The right to access abortion safely and legally in this country is on the line,” said Legislative and Political Director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey, Christine Sadovy.

Sadovy says she never expected that right might be at risk, 45 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision ruled that it’s protected by the Constitution. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement opens the door to a high court remade by President Donald Trump.

“During the morning I interviewed and met with four potential justices of our great Supreme Court,” said Trump on Monday.

“He’s looking for somebody with tremendous intellect, he’d like somebody with the right judicial temperament,
and he wants somebody who’s going to be focused on upholding the Constitution,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders outside of the White House Tuesday.

“President Trump has said that he will appoint a justice, and only appoint a justice, that is committed to overturning Roe v. Wade, so it is certainly a real threat,” said Sandovy.

The potential to tilt the court has mobilized advocates on both sides, and abortion’s not the only issue. The Supreme Court could find several controversial cases on its docket, including Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policies and the president’s determination to strip coverage for pre-existing conditions from the Affordable Care Act.

“I think the American people should have a say on a justice who will be the turning point in the court probably for over a generation. We need someone who is going to observe the rule of law, not the rule of Trump,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.

Democrats like Menendez argue the timing is all wrong, that this is happening too close to the midterm elections. But the minority’s got limited options.

“We will highlight the realities of any justice that the president might nominate. But at the end of the day, I really think we need to get the American people engaged to speak out and say, ‘now is not the time to move forward, wait until the next Congress in January,'” said Menendez.

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pushing to get a nominee confirmed in the Senate by October. And the president’s list of candidates contains only judges vetted by the conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society, including Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

New Jersey’s Right to Life Executive Director Marie Tasy says, she “hopes for a strict constructionist” on the court and calls any discussion of Roe being over turned “speculative.” But New Jersey’s been a staunchly pro-choice state.

“We’re evaluating our options for how to protect and ensure that access, that safe and legal abortion is available for all New Jersey women. We’re confident that Gov. Murphy and that our champions in the Legislature will support whatever measure is necessary,” said Sandovy.

In a statement, Murphy’s stated he’s deeply worried about “ … turning back the clock on protections related to women’s health, LGBTQ equality, civil rights, privacy and a number of other important issues,” and hopes “ … both parties in the Senate come together to reject any extreme nominee put forth by President Trump.”

The president has said he’ll reveal his nominee Monday, signaling the start of an intense political public relations battle.