Reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning abortion rights fell along partisan lines in Orange County, with Democratic leaders condemning it and Republicans praising it.
Orange County Republican Party chairman Fred Whitaker issued a statement calling the Friday ruling “courageous and correct.”
Whitaker said the ruling “recognized due process comes through the legislature directly elected by the people and not an unelected court.” He added the ruling will ensure the question of abortion access is left up to each state “where it belongs.”
Whitaker said Republicans “believe in the right to life and we believe the Supreme Court’s responsibility is to uphold the Constitution. We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision but the debate will continue here in California where we expect the Democrat legislature to take an extreme pro-choice position, including late-term, unlimited and unregulated abortion.”
Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin Vann wrote about the pending ruling on Thursday, saying that while it was expected Roe v. Wade would be overturned, “abortion will continue to be widely available in California. As bishops, we have been awed by the response of our Catholic community to reject the violence of abortion and to embrace the call to love and serve our sisters and families struggling with challenging pregnancies. Now is the time for us to continue to work together as a church to build a civilization of love and reject a throwaway culture.”
Orange County Republican Reps. Michelle Steel of Huntington Beach and Young Kim of Diamond Bar did not make statements about the ruling.
But Rep. Mike Levin, D-Dana Point, slammed the decision.
“The decision by the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court to throw out decades of judicial precedent and eliminate an established Constitutional right to abortion is appalling,” Levin said. “This decision is dangerous and threatens the lives of women who will continue to seek abortions but will do so without the proper health care services they need and deserve. And as Justice (Clarence) Thomas’s opinion makes clear, the conservative majority will next target protections for contraception and gay marriage. Congress must take this issue into our own hands. I was proud to cosponsor and vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify Roe v. Wade protections into law, and the Senate must act on that bill. It’s also paramount that every citizen recognizes the importance of their vote in protecting their most fundamental rights. I will continue to fight every day in Congress to protect those rights.”
Retiring Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said the ruling was “personally devastating to me, but even more so, devastating to every American woman who has, with the stroke of a pen, had their rights curtailed and their status as free and equal citizens abridged.”
Lowenthal agreed with Levin that the ruling was “just the first major step by the court to curtail further rights.”
UC Irvine political science and law professor Tony Smith said Thomas’ opinion pointing to other precedents regarding contraceptives and gay marriage shows the court will upend those rulings as well. Smith said Thomas, who is Black and has a white wife, notably did not point to the precedent regarding interracial marriage.
“The rank hypocrisy of this is staggering from Thomas,” Smith told City News Service.
Smith said justices like Thomas say they are “originalists,” meaning unless it is spelled out explicitly in the Constitution, the high court should not try to interpret what the founders intended.
“It’s not really a thing,” Smith said of the philosophy. “If it were they wouldn’t be expanding the Second Amendment. The bullet wasn’t invented until 40 years after the Bill of Rights and it only applies to muskets and balls, so the founders had no idea you could have something like a machine gun. So the originalist argument has been a charade from the beginning.”
Whenever the high court in the country’s history has issued a polarizing ruling of this magnitude it has lost credibility, Smith said.
“Historically whenever the court has done something this dramatically and overtly political and overreaches, like with the Dred Scott ruling — when that kind of thing happens then the court becomes kind of unimportant,” Smith said. “Congress and the president can ignore it. The public ignores it. It loses credibility and prestige and I don’t know how long it will take for this court to recover.”
Smith said the ruling will motivate abortion rights supporters to vote in November. He said there’s a chance abortion opponents will be more complacent.
UCI sociology and political science professor David Meyer told City News Service he isn’t sure if the ruling will improve the chances of Democrats in the November elections.
“It’s not just turnout,” Meyer said. “They think people will flip and that may be true, certainly. If the battle line keeps moving the calculation keeps changing.”
Much of it depends on the laws that are pursued in the wake of the ruling, Meyer said.
“The Texas Republican Party is going whole hog anti-gay and that changes that battle line,” Meyer said.
“More mobilization, more stress, more division,” is all pundits can count on now, he said.