How John Roberts Saved the GOP (and Started Its Civil War)

Kudos to Chief Justice John Roberts for rallying the three Trump-appointed pro-life justices to leave the abortion pill alone for now, saving the GOP from another deer-like a disaster.

Eighty percent of voters do not like Dobbs decision that ended the constitutional right to abortion, a figure that sets up a showdown within the GOP between election realists and pro-life activists that baffles the party’s presidential candidates.

When the 7-2 SCOTUS decision was issued – protecting access and availability in states where it is legal to take the two-dose pill that terminates pregnancy for up to 10 weeks – many Republican lawmakers pushed a sigh of relief. Anything else would have further inflamed an electorate still furious at having lost deer.

It’s good news that Roberts has managed to regain some control over the far-right Court faction, marginalizing Clarence Thomas and an angry Samuel Alito, who wrote the Dobbs decision that overturned nearly half a century of legal protection for abortion. Roberts successfully sealed off the extremists who were willing to overthrow the FDA — and the entire drug regulatory process — to take the abortion pill off the market.

Crisis averted, but the damage done by Roberts’ court cannot easily be repaired.

Making her bid as the only woman so far in the GOP field, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spoke Tuesday at the Virginia headquarters of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America office. . Haley said the next president will have to find a “national consensus” on the issue, and that she believes there is a federal role on abortion, but did not identify what that might be.

Kellyanne Conway, back in her pre-Trump role as a GOP pollster, greeted Republican donors at a retreat in Nashville earlier this month with a poll that shows 80% of voters dislike THE Dobbs decision which annuls deer. Meanwhile, the party’s militant base is demanding a federal abortion ban while pushing for more restrictive laws at the state level.

Mifepristone, the first medication for a medical abortion, is prepared for a patient at the Alamo Women’s Clinic in Carbondale, Ill., April 20, 2023.

Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

The solution? Don’t talk about it, and if you’re in a rush, emphasize states’ rights, then move on to other cultural issues such as parental rights, crime, and awakening, in whatever order suits you best.

In other words, there is no plan.

A party that has held multiple elections over decades with extraordinary unanimity on abortion is now floundering for consensus. “It’s very easy to be united against something,” says Christine Matthews, a Republican pollster, who is pro-choice. Finding a deal is more difficult, but after listening to Haley describe her pro-life stance, Matthews concluded that a 15-week abortion ban could be the middle ground where the two sides could agree.

Republican pollster Whit Ayres identifies the 15-week ban as “the nationwide sweet spot” for Republicans. (Haley signed a 20-week ban when she was governor.)

“It’s hard for me to give advice because I think it has to be consistent and keep the government out of the way,” Matthews told The Daily Beast. “The Republican base wants to restrict abortion, and they (the candidates) don’t want anyone outmaneuvering them on the right. But there shouldn’t be a national decision.

Conway’s poll stunned GOP participants at the donor retreat, but those numbers won’t change anyone’s mind in states where Republicans have supermajorities. “They don’t respond because they get elected in the primaries,” Matthews says, and activists run the primaries. In several states where abortion is on the rise, including Ohio, Republican lawmakers are changing the threshold to make it harder for voters who collect signatures to run in the 2024 election to secure abortion rights.

“It’s a horror movie with a lot of sequels,” says Jim Kessler of Third Way, a centrist Democratic group. “In 2024, we will have the first presidential election where the position of the president could make a visceral difference in a woman’s life. We see tremors there”, the aftershocks of the political earthquake caused by the overthrow of deer Last year. 2020 midterms were best for Democrats since FDR; voters in Kansas, a red state, overwhelmingly won abortion rights last year; and last month, Wisconsin voters turned out in record numbers to support a state Supreme Court justice who pledged to overturn an 1849 abortion ban.

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign town hall meeting in Bedford, New Hampshire on April 26, 2023.

Brian Snyder/Reuters

One in five women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, most women of childbearing age (58%) know someone who has had an abortion, with 68% of those women knowing more than one person.

“It’s a problem Republicans can’t hide,” Kessler says. “They try to bring cultural issues to the fore, especially on trans people. What they’re really trying to do is distract from abortion.

A party that has held multiple elections over decades with extraordinary unanimity on abortion is now floundering for consensus.

The race to the right isn’t just about legalizing abortion, it’s about criminalizing abortion. Going from a constitutional right to a crime is a non-starter in a general election in a country where supermajorities want abortion to be legal (with common sense restrictions), and 80% are unhappy with the Supreme Court decision on deer.

“Leaving that to the states is the best they can do,” Kessler says, and that’s the position Trump has taken.

Susan B. Anthony’s anti-abortion group calls Trump’s views “a morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate.” They want a 15 week nationwide ban.

The ex-president has not responded to the group that was once his ally, and he must be annoyed that the activists he so pleased by appointing three pro-life justices to the Supreme Court are unhappy and, in in fact, push for more than anyone with national aspirations can comfortably promise.

So he changed the subject, as only Trump can, saying he could boycott the Republican debates, two of which are already scheduled, one in Milwaukee in August, and a second in September at the Reagan Library in California.

“I see everyone talking about the Republican debates, but no one got my approval, or the approval of the Trump campaign, before announcing them,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “When you’re leading by seemingly insurmountable numbers and have hostile networks with angry, TRUMP & MAGA anchors who hate to ask the ‘questions,’ why subject yourself to vilification and abuse?”

He’s right, and for someone who regularly threatened to cancel debate schedules in 2016 and 2020, we’ve seen this movie before.

The Supreme Court’s decision on deer has taken an issue from moot to immediate, and it threatens to turn the primary race into a ‘can you top this’ competition on abortion restrictions ‘except for Trump’, says Kessler, who insists on the fact that at least in defining his position on an issue where the Republicans cannot win, Trump is “smarter than them”.

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