As the second day of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings got underway, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took to social media to allege he would “help gut or overturn Roe v. Wade” if confirmed to the nation’s highest court.
Kavanaugh, who was appointed by President Trump earlier this year, has never expressed outright opposition to abortion, but his nomination set off warning bells from liberals and women’s rights groups who warned he could vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.
Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, echoed those concerns in a series of tweets Wednesday morning as the Senate Judiciary Committee began its questioning of Kavanaugh.
“If Brett Kavanaugh becomes a Supreme Court justice, will he help gut or overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in America? Yes, of course he will,” Clinton said.
Clinton pointed to Kavanaugh’s involvement in a case of an undocumented teenager who sought to be released from custody to have an abortion. While the court eventually allowed her to have the procedure, Kavanaugh disapproved. He argued if the government helped the 17-year-old get the procedure, then it ignores its “permissible interest in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor and refraining from facilitating abortion.”
“Anti-abortion groups have endorsed Kavanaugh, considering him a reliable vote to overturn Roe. His confirmation would be a victory for activists who want to end a woman’s right to make her own health decisions,” the former New York senator said. “It’s remarkable that we have to keep repeating this, even in 2018: Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.”
“One of the most fundamental human rights is the right to make the most personal decisions about one’s own body,” she continued. “To deny women that is to rob them of the ability to decide their own futures.”
Even if Kavanaugh — considered to be more conservative — is appointed to the bench, the court probably wouldn’t have an impact on Roe anytime soon, Carol Sanger, a Columbia Law School professor, previously told Fox News.
“The court can’t decide to change a case until it has a case before it,” Sanger pointed out. “And the court chooses its own docket so it gets to pick what cases it hears. We don’t know whether they think there is a good case coming up to rule on Roe. They might not want to do that right away.”
If such a case did come up, and the court decided to overturn Roe, abortion wouldn’t necessarily become automatically illegal in the U.S. Instead, it would leave the issue up to the states.
Some states, however, do have more restrictive laws or fewer clinics equipped to provide the procedure already. A full repeal of Roe could lead to more regulations in more conservative states, said Aziza Ahmed, a Northwestern University School of Law professor who has done extensive research on abortion and health law.
Four states do have so-called “trigger laws” in place that would make abortion almost automatically illegal if Roe is overturned: Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota. But still other states — such as New York — already have laws already on the books, pre-dating Roe, which legalizes abortion.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 12 states had banned abortion prior to the 1973 decision that could potentially be reinstated should Roe be overturned; 21 states had pre-viability bans.
Kavanaugh’s hearing got off to a contentious start on Sept. 4, with dozens of protesters and lawmakers interrupting the opening statements. U.S. Capitol Police arrested 70 people and charged them with disorderly conduct or with crowding, obstructing, or incommoding, police said.
Among those arrested was UltraViolet executive director Shaunna Thomas, the women's organization confirmed Fox News. Thomas, who co-founded the group focused on reproductive rights and combating sexism, said, “Senators, on behalf of the millions of women across the country whose rights will be stripped by a Kavanaugh court, I demand you reject this nomination,” according to an UltraViolet spokesperson.
Clinton concluded her Wednesday Twitter thread by encouraging those to contact their senators to tell them to vote against confirming Kavanaugh.
On the first day of Kavanaugh’s hearing, Clinton also took to Twitter to oppose the judge. She said those who have a pre-existing condition or “care about someone who has one” should encourage their senators to oppose Kavanaugh. She said he would be a “threat” to ObamaCare.
“This is as serious as it gets. It’s up to us to save health care for millions of our fellow Americans – again,” she said.
Republicans currently command a narrow 50-49 Senate majority, though it will return to 51-49 once Jon Kyl, the selected replacement for late Arizona Sen. John McCain, is officially sworn in Wednesday.
If all goes according to Republicans’ plans, Kavanaugh could be sitting on the bench when the Supreme Court begins its new term on Oct. 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.