Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi fought back emotion and warned of the Supreme Court’s next moves in her weekly address on Friday, which immediately followed the release of the SCOTUS ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
The California congresswoman described the actions of the conservative court — which ended 50 years of constitutional protections for a women’s right to an abortion — as “eviscerating Americans’ rights and endangering their health and safety.” Pelosi, who later described herself as “personally overwhelmed” by the ruling, said the conservative justices’ decision advances their “dark, extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions” and she lamented how young women in America will now have fewer rights than their mothers and even grandmothers.
Pelosi warned that this was only the beginning for SCOTUS, which is currently packed with six far-right justices, three of whom Donald Trump appointed. Pelosi warned that contraception, in-vitro fertilization, and family planning were all in the high court’s sights. The Speaker made clear that Republican politicians also wanted to go further and aim to criminalize abortion nationwide.
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“In the Congress, be aware of this, the [Republicans are] plotting a nationwide abortion ban; they cannot be allowed to have a majority in Congress to do that,” Pelosi said.
The Speaker did not bring up the issue of marriage equality or transgender rights, something that many advocates feel is threatened by the ruling overturning Roe. Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling, which overturned Roe, stated that issues codifying LGBTQ+ rights like Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges should be reconsidered in light of this ruling.
The ruling is “an insult, a slap in the face to women to make their own judgments about their reproductive freedom. Termination of pregnancy is just their opening act,” she stated.
Pelosi also pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in the conservative justices’ decision yesterday to overturn a New York law limiting the carrying of concealed weapons. As the nation reels from gun violence, the far-right court made it easier for people around America to carry deadly firearms.
The court in effect ruled that “states cannot make laws governing the constitutional right to bear arms and today they’re saying the exact reverse — that the states can overturn a constitutional right for 50 years. The hypocrisy is raging but the harm is endless.”
Pelosi stated the importance of Democrats holding the House in the November midterm elections, as well as gaining seats in the Senate; not a simple feat when a Democrat holds the White House.
“We will not let this pass. We cannot allow them to take charge so they criminalize abortion. Democrats will enshrine Roe; this cruel ruling is outrageous and heartbreaking… The plan is to win the election; hopefully get two more senators so we can get past the obstacles to passing laws.”
Pelosi laid into the conservative justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, pointing out how they lied during their confirmation hearings when asked if they accepted the precedent set by Roe: “To see the chief justice side with this radical agenda, it’s just stunning.”
There were some notes of optimism in Pelosi’s speech. The Speaker had to cut the press conference early so she could call a vote on a gun control bill passed by the Senate yesterday. Pelosi saw it as taking a step to circumvent SCOTUS and finally introduce some common-sense gun control. The Speaker also said she believed that women would rally against Roe’s overturning and show up in the streets like they did in 2016 and at the polls in 2018.
“One of the most encouraging things that happened to me after the inauguration of the former occupant, occasionally, of the White House was the day after that inauguration, that horrible speech, horrible, horrible speech, women around the country marched,” Pelosi said. “It wasn’t politically planned, it was organic. People just came forth all over the country. Women marched, women ran for office, women voted, and we took back the House. We have to have something commensurate with that. This is extremism to the nth degree.”
Watch Pelosi's full press conference below.