The very strong social shock unleashed by the US Supreme Court’s recent abortion ruling erupted at today’s NATO summit, Thursday. The President of the United States, Joe Biden, spoke very strongly about this in his press conference at the end of the meeting with the Atlantic allies. The president called the judiciary’s decision “outrageous behavior” and claimed the verdict “destabilized” American society.
Biden is poised to use the so-called “nuclear option” to pass a new abortion law. Democrats don’t have a sufficient majority in the Senate to enact a law through the usual legislative process, but Biden showed a willingness this Thursday after the Supreme Court ruling that ruled out the right to remove the right to “exception” from parliamentary rules legalized abortion nationwide and left its regulation in the hands of states, overruling the doctrine of the judgment of the case Deer vs Wade.
“We must change this decision by approving it Deer vs Wade as law. The way to do this is through a vote in Congress. If filibustering gets in the way, we should make an exception,” Biden said at the news conference.
Many Democrats have called for a tougher response from Biden over the abortion ruling, and it is the first time the President of the United States is willing to force an exception to pass a nationwide abortion law.
The legislative process provides that when a senator or group of senators introduces a new bill, it is debated and amended in committee. If approved by the committee, it goes to the full Senate, where it only takes a simple majority to pass it when it comes to the vote. But the debate is not closed and therefore the vote will not continue until at least 60 of the 100 senators decide to do so. Consequently, in practice, this reinforced majority of 60 senators has become necessary to pass a law.
Currently, the Senate is divided, with 50 Democratic Senators and another 50 Republicans, a tie broken only by Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote. Initially, filibustering was active and extraordinary, involving marathon speeches to prolong debate and discourage voting. But now there is the silent filibuster: It is enough that 41 senators are against it, so that an issue does not come to a vote. In addition, it has become common practice
However, in some cases it is possible to apply an exception. It is considered a somewhat questionable procedure that does not respect all democratic guarantees, but is doable. It was dubbed the “nuclear option.” It can be invoked and put to a vote by the Senate Majority Leader and was first used by Democrats in 2013 to unlock some appointments.
In April 2017, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the nuclear option to unlock the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, one of the justices assigned to pass the abortion ruling. So far, the nuclear option has not been used to pass legislation.
Democrats attempted legislation in May, but Republicans blocked it. In his initial response to the Supreme Court ruling, Biden has already called for abortion to be restored as a law. “It doesn’t end here,” he said. But initially, Biden did not address the possibility of an exception, but rather called for a vote to strengthen the majority and change the law.
“Let me be very clear and emphatic,” he said on the day the verdict was announced. “The only way to ensure women’s suffrage and the balance that exists is for Congress to restore protections for women Deer vs Wade as federal law. No Executive Order of the President can do that. And if Congress, as it seems, now lacks the votes for this, the voters must make their voices heard,” he repeatedly insisted on speaking about the verdict during his appearance. “Roe is on the ballot this fall. Personal liberties are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality, it’s all on the ballot,” Biden added.
The chances of November’s general election giving Biden a reinforced Senate majority are virtually nil. Additionally, the president’s polls and low popularity suggest he could lose his tenuous majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives, so he appears to have decided to take a more direct route and attempt to get legislation in front of Congress now to say goodbye is renewed.
Biden’s criticism of the Supreme Court has drawn a reaction from Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell through a statement has said: “Attacking a key American institution like the Supreme Court from the world stage is beneath the President’s dignity. Furthermore, President Biden’s attacks on the Court are undeserved and dangerous. She is upset that the court has said the people will have a say in abortion policy through their elected representatives. This does not destabilize democracy, but rather confirms it.”
McConnell has also criticized that Biden’s comment was prompted by a poll question suggesting Americans believe Biden is not leading the United States in the right direction. “The Supreme Court is not responsible for inflation, high gas prices, street crime or border chaos. It is him,” he condemned.