In searing remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday criticized the Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade and suggested that Trump-appointed justices lied when they told lawmakers during their confirmation hearings that they respected the precedent of the 1973 ruling.
"How about those justices coming before the senators and saying that they respected stare decisis, the precedent of the court, that they respected the privacy in the Constitution of the United States," Pelosi said at a news conference Friday. "Did you hear that? Were they not telling the truth, then?"
Democrats have increasingly questioned the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, fueled by the push by Republicans to block a nominee by President Barack Obama and then to name a justice in the final months of President Donald Trump's term. Pelosi echoed that criticism, calling it a "Trumpian" court that is pushing the interests of Republicans.
Pelosi appeared to refer to Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh who, during their confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said they believed the landmark ruling that guaranteed abortion access across the country was "precedent." Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined their fellow conservative justices in upholding a Mississippi law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and overturning Roe.
Gorsuch told senators in March 2017 that Roe was "a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court" that has been reaffirmed. Kavanaugh told senators in September 2018 that Roe was "settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court, entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis," a legal doctrine that means “to stand by things decided” in Latin.
Pelosi criticized the court and Republicans in stark, emotional terms, pinning the blame on former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for laying the groundwork for the end of Roe.
"Today, the Republican-controlled Supreme Court has achieved their dark, extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions,” Pelosi said. “Because of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party and their supermajority on the Supreme Court, American women today have less freedom than their mothers.”
“With Roe and their attempt to destroy it, radical Republicans are charging ahead with their crusade to criminalize health freedom,” Pelosi added, ripping into what she called a "Trumpian Supreme Court" and appearing to urge supporters of reproductive freedom to vote in the November midterm elections.
“In the Congress — be aware of this — Republicans are plotting a nationwide abortion ban,” she said. “They cannot be allowed to have a majority in the Congress, but that’s their goal.”
In especially impassioned remarks, Pelosi said the ruling was an “insult” to women across the country, appearing to fight back tears.
“It’s a slap in the face to women about using their own judgment, to make their own decisions about their reproductive freedom,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi also contrasted the court's decision on abortion rights with a major ruling Thursday holding that the Constitution provides a right to carry a gun outside the home, handing a crucial victory to gun rights groups.
"Such a contradiction," she said. "Yesterday, they say the states cannot make laws governing the constitutional right to bear arms. And today, they’re saying the exact reverse — that the states can overturn a constitutional right — for 50 years a constitutional right — for a woman having the right to choose. The hypocrisy is raging, but the harm is endless."