From gun and voting rights to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, several social issues elbowed out of the US election season due to the coronavirus pandemic and racial unrest are now expected to come to the forefront following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the pledge by Senate Republicans to vote on her replacement before the November 3 polls.
With conservatives jockeying to create a six-to-three majority in the highest court in the land, the coming weeks are also set to bring new urgency to the ever-contentious battle over abortion. An appointee by President Donald Trump would further stack the Supreme Court, which already has five justices with staked positions against abortion rights.
“All of the people Trump has named as potential nominees are known to be anti-abortion,” Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor, told Al Jazeera, referring to a list of more than 40 Supreme Court candidates the president previously promised to choose from in case of a vacancy.
“There’s already a five-four majority of anti-abortion judges, and if Trump is able to put somebody else on the bench that’ll give them a six-three majority,” said Sloan, who was council for the Senate Judiciary Committee during Ginsburg’s 1993 confirmation hearing.
“A new anti-abortion judge would be all they need to overturn Roe vs Wade,” she said, referring to a landmark 1973 ruling that federally protects a woman’s right to seek an abortion without excessive government restriction.In a statement on Friday, the Susan B Anthony List, a leading anti-abortion rights group, said the opportunity to fill Ginsburg’s seat was “a turning point for the nation in the fight to protect its most vulnerable, the unborn”.
“The stakes just got even higher this election – our health, our bodies, and our lives are all on the line,” Jenny Lawson, executive director of Planned Parenthood’s voting outreach arm said in a statement, warning Senate Republicans who vote to approve a Supreme Court nominee before the election that they will be held accountable at the polls.
“The fate of our rights … and our country depend on what happens over the coming months,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.