RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said the U.S. Supreme Court has jumped into “culture wars” after the leak of a draft majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, raising concerns over other rights beyond abortion that could be rolled back.
Warner and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) both spoke out against the leaking of the draft Wednesday, but said Republicans’ outrage about the disclosure was misplaced.
“Leaking a Supreme Court decision before it’s official is wrong and I think it is appropriate that the court should investigate and bring to justice whoever did this unprecedented leak,” Warner said on a media call. “But I find it a little strange that so many of my colleagues here are not talking about the huge substance of what this decision implies.”
While the leaked first draft is not the final opinion, the court appears poised to overrule Roe and allow states to decide on abortion rights. The draft, which was written by Justice Samuel Alito, argues that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”
Virginia’s two Democratic senators and several others pointed to language in the draft while raising concerns over other privacy-related rights that could be vulnerable. Advocacy groups have expressed worries about the court’s decision’s ripple effects on the LGBTQ community.
In the draft, which was publicized in a Politico report, Alito argues that unenumerated rights — rights protected by the U.S. Constitution but not explicitly mentioned in the document — must be strongly “rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions” and that abortion does not meet the standard.
“My fear is by the Supreme Court jumping feet first into these culture wars that this woman’s right to choose just may be the first step,” Warner said Wednesday.
“The scope of the Alito opinion is extremely broad and it’s much, much further, much, much further than just dealing with abortion,” Kaine said during his own media call Wednesday.
Warner added that the argument laid out in Alito’s draft opinion could lead to restrictions on buying and using contraceptives, marriage equality and gay rights.
“It is extremely troubling, extremely troubling,” Kaine added. “I’m going to hope that the court may come to their senses about the turn back of the constitutional clock.”
Kaine and Warner were both confident that the U.S. Senate would vote on measures to try to enshrine the right to an abortion into federal law, including Women’s Health Protection Act. But both admitted the long odds of getting the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster from Republicans.
“Predicting how we would get to 60 votes, I think that’s going to be a hard road to hoe in the Senate, under the current Senate,” Warner said.
While Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have expressed their own concerns about the rolling back of abortion rights, Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act.
“We couldn’t get enough votes in February,” Kaine said of the Women’s Health Protection Act. “But it seemed a bit abstract then maybe to some people. It’s not abstract now.”
Despite the long odds, Warner and Kaine said they will back any effort, including voting on a statement of support of abortion rights. Warner added that people would also be able to see how their senators voted ahead of the 2022 midterms in November.
“The only place where they can work to ensure that a woman’s right to choose, for example, is protected is to change the composition of the Congress and make sure the composition of the legislature in Virginia protects those rights,” Warner said Wednesday.