That was the message he delivered to donors at a fundraiser on Wednesday hosted by the Democratic National Committee as the White House and Democrats nationally face questions about whether they have a strategy to see abortion rights protected at the federal level in the event that the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade.
“Mark my words: They’re going to go after the right of the — Supreme Court decision on the right of same-sex marriage,” he warned.
His warning about conservative pushes to ban contraception, previously unthinkable but now possible under the court’s strong conservative majority, was the same.
“We’re going to be back to Griswold v Connecticut, where there was a time in Connecticut law where it said a married couple, in the privacy of their own bedroom, cannot use contraception; it was a decision — the government can make the decision you can’t do that,” the president predicted.
The president’s remarks would seem outlandish given that the GOP largely has moved away from the issues of gay marriage and contraception but for the comments of some Republicans recently; in March, during the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sen John Cornyn quipped that the Supreme Court had “invented” the right to marriage for gay and lesbian Americans during the Obama administration.
And on Sunday, Mississippi Gov Tate Reeves refused to answer a question from Meet the Press host Chuck Todd regarding whether he would sign a hypothetical bill banning contraception in his state.
Republicans have been sharply divided in their reaction to the draft leak that revealed the apparent imminent demise of Roe, largely a symptom of the strong popularity the original ruling enjoys in today’s society and in particular among younger age groups. Some, like Ohio’s GOP Senate candidate JD Vance, have celebrated the news that Roe could be overturned, and a few have joyously pressed the idea of pursuing a national ban. Others have expressed hesitance to pursuing such a ban at the national level, given the desire by many for the laws to be decided by individual states.
Democrats, meanwhile, have insisted that the GOP’s conservative base will force the party to continue pushing legislation banning abortion care across the country and soon at the federal level, while warning that a number of other precedents including decisions that led to the end of bans of interracial marriages and the integration of America’s public schools could be on the chopping block as the nation’s highest court takes a hard rightward shift.
But activists have pressed the party to take action now that would have tangible effects, something the party has not yet shown any signs of doing. As of now, most Democrats seem content to punt the issue to November in the hopes that voters will see fit to elect “more pro-choice leaders”, as Vice President Kamala Harris put it after the failed Senate vote to codify abortion rights into law.
Mr Biden’s remarks on Wednesday were somewhat emblematic of this, as they were delivered at a fundraiser for his party’s efforts to hold on to majorities in the House and Senate.
He spelled out, in his remarks, how the draft Roe decision presented both an opportunity for success and devastating failure for Democrats in the fall, explaining: “[Y]ou know, if the Court follows this leaked opinion, it has the potential to generate significant enthusiasm to get out and vote, but it also has an enormous potential if — if we fail, what that will mean — what that will mean.”
Legislation that would have codified abortion rights into law failed by a vote of 49-51 on Wednesday, with Sen Joe Manchin joining Republicans to oppose it. Negotiations between Democrats and some moderate Republicans like Susan Collins continue, but it is extremely unlikely that any compromise legislation would meet the 60-vote threshold needed to bypass a filibuster from the GOP minority.