‘They set a torch to it’: Warren says court lost legitimacy with Roe reversal

Top Democrats again call for appointing additional justices to blunt conservative super-majority which made ruling possible

Leading Democrats on Sunday continued calling the supreme court’s legitimacy into question after it took away the nationwide right to abortion last week, and some again lobbied for appointing additional justices to the panel so as to blunt the conservative super-majority that made the controversial ruling possible.

The Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren suggested to ABC’s This Week that expanding the court was an urgent matter because supreme court justice Clarence Thomas indicated in Friday’s decision to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade ruling that he is open to reconsidering precedents guaranteeing the right to contraception, same-sex marriage and consensual gay sex.

“They have burned whatever legitimacy they may still have had,” Warren said of the supreme court. “They just took the last of it and set a torch to it.”

Warren joined Georgia gubernatorial candidate and Democratic organizer Stacey Abrams in again lobbying to expand the supreme court in a way that balances the current makeup of six conservatives and three liberals.

Joe Biden has rejected the strategy. But Abrams – who previously served in Georgia’s house of representatives – said the president doesn’t have the final word on the matter, with legislators also having a say.

“There’s nothing sacrosanct about nine members of the United States supreme court,” Abrams said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Warren again discussed abolishing the filibuster, a tactic that both parties use to prevent legislative decisions, a move Biden and centrist Democrats have also rejected.

She also urged Biden to issue orders shielding medication abortions and authorizing the terminations of pregnancies on federal land.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, the New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued that drastic measures were justified.

“I believe that the president and the Democratic party needs to come to terms with is that this is not just a crisis of Roe – this is a crisis of our democracy,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

The congresswoman also said the supreme court was undergoing “a crisis of legitimacy”, alluding to how Thomas’s wife, Ginni, emailed 29 Republican lawmakers in Arizona as she tried to help overturn Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

“The supreme court has dramatically overreached its authority,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is a crisis of legitimacy.”

Speaking from a Republican point of view on another program, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem said it was “incredible” that reproductive laws had been returned to the states. South Dakota is one of 13 states where trigger laws banning most abortions came into effect after Friday’s decision.

“The supreme court did its job: it fixed a wrong decision it made many years ago and returned this power back to the states, which is how the constitution and our founders intended it,” Noem told CBS’ Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan.

South Dakota, she said, would ensure that “babies are recognized and that every single life is precious”.

The governor said the state would move to block Democratic efforts to allow access to out-of-state telemedicine and the ability of health practitioners in legal abortion states to provide pills in the mail that would allow them to end a pregnancy.

Noem said that abortion pills were “very dangerous medical procedures”, though Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan correctly pointed out that the pills were approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Nonetheless, Noem claimed that “a woman is five times more likely to end up in an emergency room if they’re utilizing this kind of method for an abortion.

“It’s something that should be under the supervision of a medical doctor and it is something in South Dakota that we’ve made sure happens that way.”

The governor, a rising star in Republican circles, said that mothers would not be prosecuted for receiving abortions, rather the state planned to target illegal abortion providers.

“We will make sure that mothers have the resources, protection and medical care that they need and we’re being aggressive on that. And we’ll also make sure that the federal government only does its job,” Noem added.

• This article was amended on 28 June 2022 to correct misspellings of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surname as “Ocascio-Cortez”.


Edward Helmore in New York and Ramon Antonio Vargas

The GuardianTramp

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