Democrat presidential contender and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) made an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
Among a range of viewpoints presented in his interview, he expressed his intention to use the issue of abortion as a litmus test for potential Supreme Court
SCOTUS litmus test
The interview began with a discussion of how best to defeat President Donald Trump and how well Sanders’ chief rival in the primary — former Vice President Joe Biden — has done in the few short weeks since formally launching his campaign This was followed by a shift to Sanders’ “Medicare-for-All” single-payer health care scheme.
The conversation eventually moved to the hot topic of the day, the various new state-level laws that — depending upon the jurisdiction — were either loosening or restricting access to abortions. Host Chuck Todd asked Sanders directly if he would use the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling as a sort of “litmus test” for Supreme Court nominees.
“Look, I believe what they did in Alabama is unbelievable. Other states are doing it. The idea that women in this country should not be able to control their own bodies is beyond belief. They have that constitutional right,” Sanders replied.
“So if you’re asking me, would I ever appoint a Supreme Court justice who does not believe in defending Roe versus Wade, who does not believe that a woman has the right to control her own body, I will never do that,” the senator said.
Todd asked if Sanders believed there should be any restrictions on abortion at all, and Sanders replied, “I think that that is a decision that is being — that should be made by the woman and her physician.”
“And I think many of, you know, what people are doing, sadly, is creating a political issue out of a medical issue. So the decision about — women should be able to control their own body. And those decisions are made by a doctor and the woman,” he said.
Todd pressed and hinted at eugenics-style, gender selection abortions, and asked Sanders if he thought there should be restrictions against things like that, and though the senator admitted that such things were a “concern,” he made it clear that he wouldn’t issue any restrictions against such things and would instead leave it for society to figure out.
Sen. Sanders just made it abundantly clear that, when it comes to the Supreme Court, support for abortion and committment to upholding the Roe v. Wade decision will be at the top of the priority list in terms of vetting potential judicial nominees.
That means that if a Republican-appointed conservative justice were to retire or otherwise become incapable of serving while Sanders was president, they would almost certainly be replaced by a jurist with an expansive view of Roe specifically and abortion rights generally.
Sanders also made it quite clear that he isn’t in favor of imposing any restrictions on abortion, a stance that is at odds with the overwhelming majority of Americans who want abortion to be limited to the first trimester, with exceptions granted only in cases of rape or incest or to protect the mother’s health.
Where voters truly land with regard to the right to life versus the right to abortion is sure to be a hot topic during the 2020 campaign, and while the ideological divide on this issue will always exist at some level, candidates who stake out extreme positions such as advocating for unrestricted, on-demand abortion only serve to fan the flames of discord and make finding a workable solution that much harder.