IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump is out of office. But the Supreme Court is ensuring his legacy lives on.

After news broke that Roe had been reversed, the former president claimed responsibility for the decision — a statement that few on either side of the aisle would dispute.
Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh
Then-President Donald Trump listens as Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 8, 2018.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump no longer holds formal power, but the Supreme Court is ensuring his legacy lives on.

By a 6-3 vote Friday, the court erased nearly 50 years of precedent by ruling that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion. Earlier in the week, by the same margin, the court struck down a New York law that heavily restricted licenses to carry concealed handguns and ruled that police officers can't be sued for violating a suspect's Miranda rights.

In each of the cases, all three justices appointed by Trump — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — voted in the majority.

"There’s just so much deterioration to our human rights and our basic individual rights that have manifested in just a single week," said Mai El-Sadany, a human rights lawyer in Washington who participated in a protest outside the Supreme Court following the abortion decision. "That’s all part of Trump’s legacy, and I think it’s important for people to recognize that."

While liberals blame Trump for nominating judges who have delivered on his promise to shift the court dramatically to the political right, conservatives credit him for the very same reason. No ruling carries more weight with them than Friday's reversal of the court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, which blocked states from banning abortion.

"The Trump-Pence administration was the most pro-life in history," said Kellyanne Conway, a conservative pollster and strategist who served as counselor to Trump in the White House.

"The legacy includes courageously nominating constitutionalist judges, including three to the U.S. Supreme Court, support of qualified women's health centers and crisis pregnancy centers, and respect for the sanctity of life and scientific developments," said Conway, who writes about Trump and the anti-abortion movement in her just-released memoir "Here's the Deal."

At first, Trump was an awkward champion for anti-abortion activists. He had declared himself "very pro-choice" in a 1999 interview on NBC's Meet the Press. But as he campaigned for the Republican nomination in 2015 and 2016, Trump morphed.

In March 2016, he said on MSNBC that there has to be "some form of punishment" for women who have abortions. Facing a backlash among conservative activists who saw the message as counterproductive to their cause, Trump quickly walked it a step back. Instead of women, his campaign said, doctors should face consequences.

During a presidential debate in October of that year, Trump said the court would eventually overturn its Roe vs. Wade abortion precedent because he would appoint anti-abortion justices to the bench. And he released lists of candidates for Supreme Court appointments that had been vetted by conservative activists.

Abortion opponents became a key part of his political coalition, and Trump has not disappointed them.

"This would not have happened if Donald Trump had not been willing to stand firm and true to his word and appoint constitutionalist judges," Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, said in an interview outside the Supreme Court Friday.

If Trump chooses to run for president again in 2024, the abortion decision and the court's general rightward shift promise to be a major part of his efforts to rally social conservatives behind him.

In an interview with Fox News Friday, Trump said "God made the decision."

Later in the day, he moved to more familiar terrain — taking credit — with a claim that few on either side of the aisle would dispute.

"Today's decision, which is the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation, along with other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised," Trump said in a statement.