Supreme Court & Court-Packing: Joe Biden Should Tell Voters His Position

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the first 2020 presidential campaign debate with President Donald Trump in Cleveland, Ohio, September 29, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

At a town hall event yesterday evening in Miami, an attendee asked Joe Biden to delineate his plans to “protect women’s reproductive health in the U.S.,” especially in light of the recent nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Biden asserted that, although we don’t know how Barrett would rule on abortion-related cases, “the expectation is that she may very well move to overrule Roe.”

“The only responsible response to that would be to pass legislation making Roe the law of the land,” Biden added. “That’s what I would do.”

Surely Biden meant for this to come across as a reassuring, moderate answer to a delicately phrased, euphemism-laden question. But passing a bill to “codify Roe,” as Democrats put it, would be a radical step, out of line with the views of most Americans.

Because while most Americans tend to say in surveys that they support Roe, very few Americans are aware of what the decision in Roe does. A 2013 Pew Research Center poll, for instance, found that only 62 percent of Americans even knew Roe had to do with abortion; among respondents under 30, that percentage fell to just 44 percent. Given the misinformation and intentionally misleading information floating around, it’s likely that large numbers of Americans believe overturning Roe would make abortion illegal across the entire country, rather than simply return the issue to each state.

Meanwhile, surveys consistently find that most Americans don’t support legal unlimited abortion on demand, which is currently the law of the land under Roe and subsequent abortion jurisprudence. A Gallup poll in 2018 showed that just 13 percent of Americans support permitting elective abortion during the last three months of pregnancy.

Biden and his supporters might like to think that turning the anti-constitutional ruling in Roe into a federal law will be a popular choice with most Americans, but the fact is that a majority of voters, including a majority of Democrats, disagrees with the status quo on abortion.

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