Pelosi says Roe opinion would threaten marriage equality, other rights

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) addresses reporters during her weekly press conference on Friday, April 29, 2022.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said a Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade would threaten marriage equality and other rights, continuing to sound the alarm after a leaked draft opinion showed that the high court is poised to strike down the nearly 50-year precedent.

Pelosi, during an interview with The Seattle Times editorial board, said an opinion that overrules Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that established the federal right to abortion, “has an impact beyond a woman’s right to choose.”

“The next thing could be gay marriage equality, there’s so many other things that once you’ve dispensed with precedent and privacy that they could have the majority to do,” she added.

The speaker made similar comments in a statement slamming the draft ruling on Tuesday, when she said the document “offers a dangerous blueprint for future assaults on some of our most cherished rights, which are rooted in the long-held constitutional right to privacy.”

Politico sent shockwaves throughout the country on Monday night when it published a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, that said the decisions made in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey “must be overruled.” The opinion said “a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history.”

The Supreme Court later said the draft ruling is “authentic,” but underscored that the document does not reflect a final decision from the bench.

The Speaker told The Seattle Times on Wednesday that it is “appalling” that the draft opinion seeks to tell women how to handle matters in their personal lives.

“The very idea that they would be telling women the size, timing or whatever of their family, the personal nature of this is so appalling, and I say that as a devout Catholic,” Pelosi said. “They say to me, ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the Pope.’ Yes I do. Are you stupid?”

Appearing Wednesday at an event in Washington state to promote federal infrastructure projects, Pelosi continued to castigate Alito’s draft and the conservative justices who have reportedly endorsed it, saying their argument attacks women’s freedoms, “mocks” the 1973 ruling and ignores decades of legal precedent.  

“It did violence not only to women, but to the Constitution of the United States,” she said.

Pelosi also hammered Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have long sought to make abortion illegal but spent much of this week downplaying the substance of Alito’s draft decision. Instead, GOP leaders focused their attention on attacking the anonymous leaker who sent the document to Politico.

“What is important is the substance of it and what it means in the lives” of women, Pelosi said.

The Speaker told The Seattle Times that she has told her members to not “get hung up” on how the draft opinion leaked, a rare and stunning breach in the secrecy surrounding the inner workings of the Supreme Court.

“Forget about that. What we’re talking about that is it’s leaked and this is what it is,” Pelosi said.

She also targeted the conservative bloc of the bench during the interview, telling the newspaper that some justices nominated by Republican presidents “lied to the U.S. Senate, ripped up the Constitution and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation.”

The House last year approved legislation to codify Roe v. Wade into law, but it was never considered in the Senate, where supporters not only lacked the 60 votes to defeat a potential GOP filibuster but also couldn’t rally the 50 votes needed to eliminate the rule. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have both vowed to keep the filibuster in place. 

With that in mind, Pelosi in Washington state said Democrats should be focused on picking up enough seats in November’s midterms to get rid of the filibuster for the purpose of passing legislation enshrining federal abortion protections.

“We passed the bill months ago, and now we have to pass it in the Senate,” Pelosi said. “And in order to pass it in the Senate, we have to win the election in November so that we have a couple more senators who will be willing to set aside the 60-vote requirement.”