Progressive Groups: Calling ‘Roe’ ‘Settled Law’ Isn’t Enough for Trump’s Next Supreme Court Pick

“Trump’s own litmus test has raised the bar for what a nominee must answer at a hearing."

[Photo: President Donald Trump speaks with U.S. Supreme Court justices]
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has said she wants Trump’s nominee to affirm that Roe v. Wade is “precedent” and “settled law." Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Representatives from progressive groups on Thursday called for a new standard for U.S. senators to use in evaluating President Trump’s upcoming U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

Organizations including Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the National Women’s Law Center, Demand Justice, and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum unveiled the “personal liberty standard” in a press conference, pushing for senators to reject any Court nominee who would overturn Roe v. Wade and criminalize abortion care in the United States. This comes as challenges to legal abortion boil up from GOP-majority state legislatures

Citing occasions when Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts affirmed that Roe is “settled law” and “precedent” during confirmation hearings only to rule otherwise after they joined the bench, Demand Justice Executive Director Brian Fallon said there needs to be a new standard. “We’re here to warn Trump’s nominee and to tell Susan Collins that calling Roe a precedent or settled law is not enough, not even close,” he said at the press conference. “Trump’s own litmus test has raised the bar for what a nominee must answer at a hearing. Because so many of these people on Trump’s shortlist are scholars of the late Antonin Scalia, we are not going to accept any jiggery-pokery on Roe vs. Wade, and we are not going to accept any applesauce answers on the Affordable Care Act.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has said she wants Trump’s nominee to affirm that Roe v. Wade is “precedent” and “settled law,” while other GOP senators, like Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), have been silent about the potential for Roe to be undermined or overturned.

In response to Trump’s campaign pledge to appoint anti-choice judges to the U.S. Supreme Court, attracting the support of anti-choice groups, Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens introduced the concept of a “personal liberty standard” for potential nominees.

“We are calling for a personal liberty standard, that a Senate must only confirm a justice who affirmatively declares that they believe that the constitution protects individual liberty and the right of all people to make personal decisions about their bodies and their personal relationships, including the use of contraception, the right to have an abortion, and the freedom to marry who you choose,” she said during the press conference. “That is what the American people want to know.”

The groups announced plans for protest marches against Trump’s nominee, scheduled for August 26 in every state.

The call for a “personal liberty standard” takes an intersectional approach by grouping the right to access safe and legal abortion care with contraception access and LGBTQ rights. 

“For Planned Parenthood, being intersectional is the only way that makes sense because our patients, who we always put first, they’re not just about their reproductive organs, if you will. They are about their whole lives,” Laguens told Rewire.News. “When you look at the case law and the due process clause of the 14th amendment, what is going to happen if they don’t respect precedent? All of those things are put at risk, not just Roe. So we have to have a bigger message out there that, of course Roe [is] significantly important, everyone wants it to stay, 70 percent of Americans, but it also impacts other things and that’s very important.”