Biden Made a Windmill Dunk on the Supreme Court Over Roe v. Wade

The President was feisty during the State of the Union, and while he never actually said the word "abortion," his dig at the Justices was (temporarily) satisfying.

Biden Made a Windmill Dunk on the Supreme Court Over Roe v. Wade

Well, President Joe Biden managed to surprise me by bringing up abortion within the first 15 minutes of his State of the Union address Thursday night rather than making it an afterthought. Biden rightfully devoted much more time to the topic than he did last year, and he teed it up as an “assault on freedom.” And to the glee of people online, he came for the Supreme Court justices in attendance by quoting Justice Samuel Alito’s smarmy words from the Dobbs opinion back to them.

Alito wrote that if women didn’t like the ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, they were “not without electoral or political power”—aka they can go vote about it. (Voter suppression and gerrymandering would like a word.) There were six Justices sitting in the front two rows: Chief Justice John Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Now, only two of the justices present signed onto Alito’s opinion—Gorsuch and Kavanaugh; Roberts wrote his own concurrence—but it was delightful to watch them sit there dead-eyed nonetheless. (Alito hasn’t attended a State of the Union since 2010 when he mouthed the words “not true” after Barack Obama criticized the court’s ruling in Citizens United. Extremely on brand for him.)

Here, enjoy:

As for the rest of the abortion rights section, Biden controlled himself enough not to mention how much he personally dislikes abortion. He also spoke about recent attacks on IVF but didn’t note that over 100 members of the House co-sponsored a bill that would restrict it. And he didn’t actually say the word “abortion”—Politico noted that his prepared remarks included the word when referring to Texas law but he left it out during his delivery. It’s unclear if it was a mistake or an intentional change.

Nor did Biden refer to the GOP’s most extreme plans if Republicans take power. He said the GOP is “promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom. My God.” And yes, that’s correct, but it’s not the full picture. As I explained on Thursday morning, conservatives want Donald Trump to weaponize a 19th-century anti-vice law called the Comstock Act to ban all abortions nationwide, even without Congress.

Biden and Democrats need to inform voters about the risk this law poses and move to repeal it to show even more fight on the abortion issue and prepare for the non-zero chance that Trump wins. There was a way to start that conversation in last night’s speech but Biden didn’t take the opportunity. He’ll have another chance after Supreme Court arguments in an abortion-pill related case on March 26, and later when the decision comes out. I guess I’ll have to just keep hoping.

Here’s the full section on reproductive freedom:

Joining us tonight is Latorya Beasley, a social worker from Birmingham, Alabama. Fourteenth months ago tonight, she and her husband welcomed a baby girl thanks to the miracle of IVF. She scheduled treatments to have a second child, but the Alabama Supreme Court shut down IVF treatments across the state, unleashed by the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. She was told her dream would have to wait.

What her family has gone through should never have happened. And unless Congress acts, it could happen again. So tonight, let’s stand up for families like hers. To my friends across the aisle, don’t keep families waiting any longer. Guarantee the right to IVF nationwide.

Like most Americans, I believe Roe v. Wade got it right. And I thank Vice President Harris for being an incredible leader, defending reproductive freedom and so much more. But my predecessor came to office determined to see Roe v. Wade overturned. He’s the reason it was overturned and he brags about it. Look at the chaos that has resulted.

Joining us tonight is Kate Cox, a wife and mother from Dallas. She had become pregnant again at a fetus with a fatal condition. Her doctor told Kate that her own life and her ability to have children  in the future were at risk if she didn’t act. Because Texas law banned her ability to act, Kate and her husband had to leave the state to get what she needed. What her family has gone through should have never happened as well. But it’s happening to too many others. There are state laws banning the freedom to choose, criminalizing doctors, forcing survivors of rape and incest to leave their states to get the treatment they need.

Many of you in this chamber and my predecessor are promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom. My God. What freedom else would you take away? In its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court majority wrote the following—and with all due respect, Justices—”women are not without electoral or political power.” You’re about to realize just how much you were right about that.

Clearly, those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women in America. They found out though when reproductive freedom was on the ballot and won in 2022, 2023, and they will find out again, in 2024. If you the American people send me a Congress that supports the right to choose, I promise you, I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again.

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