U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts defended his conservative-leaning bench against attacks on his June decision to strike down federal abortion rights, while U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris launched a ferocious attack on what she called today’s “militant court.”
Roberts, in his first public appearance since the explosive decision to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, cautioned against tying contentious decisions to the legitimacy of the court, saying at an event Friday night “The court has always adjudicated controversial cases and decisions have always come under intense criticism, and that is entirely appropriate.
But in her first interview with a television network since becoming vice president, Harris told NBC News that she now thinks the Supreme Court is a “militant court” after the institution removed the national abortion rights.
“We had an established right for almost half a century, which is the right of women to make decisions about their own bodies as an extension of … the right to privacy that everyone is entitled to,” Harris said during the interview with Chuck Todd for Meet the Press, which aired in full on Sunday after being dragged on Friday.
“And this court immediately took away that constitutional right, and we are hurting as a nation because of that,” she added.
Harris said, “I believe the government shouldn’t be telling women what to do with their bodies. I believe the government shouldn’t tell women how to plan their families…shouldn’t criminalize health care providers…shouldn’t say “no exceptions for rape or incest”.
Before becoming a U.S. senator and then the first female U.S. vice president, Harris served as attorney general of California and, before that, district attorney of San Francisco.
“As a prosecutor, a former prosecutor, specializing in child sexual abuse cases, understanding the violence that happens against women and children and then subjecting them to more of these kinds of inhumane conditions – that’s what I believe,” she said.
The Vice President also remarked that she was “very concerned about the integrity of the court as a whole”.
Since the Trump administration secured three nominations to the nine-member bench, the court has swung sharply to the right with a six-to-three conservative supermajority. He voted in June to dismantle Roe, returning power over abortion rights to the states and leaving 58% of American women of childbearing age, or 40 million women, in states hostile to abortion rights.
And Roberts defended the court.
“He added, at Friday’s event: ‘I don’t understand the connection between opinions that people disagree with and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court,’ he said, then that he was being interviewed by two judges of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals during his conference in Colorado Springs, the Gazette reported newspaper.
“If the court does not retain its legitimate function of interpreting the constitution, I don’t know who would take on that role. You don’t want the political branches telling you what the law is, and you don’t want public opinion to be the guide to the proper decision,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the fence around the Washington DC courthouse, set up amid violent abortion rights protests, had come down. And that when the Supreme Court’s next term begins in October, the arguments will once again be open to the public in person, after the building was closed during the pandemic.