Jun 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Pelosi signals votes to codify key SCOTUS rulings, protect abortion

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday said she's preparing votes on a number of bills protecting abortion as well as codifying landmark Supreme Court decisions as a response to the court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: In a "Dear Colleague" letter to her caucus, Pelosi hinted at bills to respond to Justice Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson calling for the court to revisit landmark rulings protecting same-sex relationships, marriage equality and access to contraceptives.

Why it matters: Democrats are preparing their legislative fight against the 6-3 conservative court and the Republican-controlled states that moved to ban abortion in response to the ruling.

  • They're also reacting to an outcry of anger from their base, which is calling for more action from lawmakers.

What they're saying: "Justice Clarence Thomas confirmed many of our deepest fears about where this decision may lead: taking aim at additional long-standing precedent and cherished privacy rights, from access to contraception and in-vitro fertilization to marriage equality," Pelosi wrote.

  • "Legislation is being introduced to further codify freedoms which Americans currently enjoy. More information to follow."

Pelosi also said House Democrats have been "hard at work preparing for the possibility of" Roe being overturned, and laid out several legislative avenues they are exploring:

  • Protecting data stored on reproductive health apps from being "used against women by a sinister prosecutor in a state that criminalizes abortion."
  • Affirming Americans' "constitutional right to travel freely and voluntarily throughout the United States."
  • Again passing the Women's Health Protection Act, legislation to ensure federal abortion rights, which previously passed the House in September but was blocked by the Senate in May.

Reality check: Much of this legislation will likely go nowhere in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to bypass the filibuster.

  • That means most Democratic legislation in the 50-50 chamber requires at least 10 Republican votes.
  • Many Democrats have called to eliminate the filibuster, but moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have consistently rejected such a move.
  • Pelosi, in her letter, called to elect more Democrats so they can "eliminate the filibuster so that we can restore women’s fundamental rights — and freedom for every American."
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