Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during the National Right to Life convention, July 10, 2015, in New Orleans.
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/AP

Santorum: Supreme Court doesn’t have final say

Updated

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum told an anti-abortion convention that there is a straight line from Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that struck down abortion bans, to the ruling in June that declared same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. 

“We’ve seen some court decisions that I know have some people very upset about what the future of marriage and family and our culture are,” Santorum told those assembled at the National Right to Life Convention (NRLC) in New Orleans Friday. He called Roe “the cancer that is infecting the body of America.”

RELATED: Scott Walker gets the abortion ban he asked for

“When did it become the law of the land that the Supreme Court has the final say on everything?” Santorum demanded, in one of the biggest applause lines of his speech. He added that the people would have the final say.

Most historians trace the judicial review of democratically enacted laws to the 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison. Santorum was technically correct that a constitutional amendment could override a Supreme Court ruling — but that is not an easy lift. 

“There is a real chance that the next president of the United States can put three members on the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Another possibility is for the Supreme Court to reverse itself, which is relatively rare and which is likelier to happen if its justices change. Santorum himself saw that play out with the so-called Partial-Birth Abortion Ban he championed as a senator. In 2000, a state version of the law was ruled unconstitutional, but in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the federal version to stand when Sandra Day O’Connor was replaced by Samuel Alito. 

Another presidential candidate speaking at the NRLC, Rick Perry, similarly stressed the importance of the court. “There is a real chance that the next president of the United States can put three members on the U.S. Supreme Court,” the former Texas governor said. “I want you to think about that.” He added that several past Republican appointees had not all been “credentialed conservatives.” Perry promised of his own potential appointees that, based on his own record appointing Texas’s state supreme court, “They will not be squishy.” 

Perry signed a law requiring abortion patients to view and listen to fetal ultrasounds, as well as one that banned abortion at 20 weeks. And perhaps most devastating of all to access, he pushed forward regulations that have already closed about half of Texas’s abortion clinics. Still, Perry said, “The only way to stop abortion is one pregnancy at a time, one woman at a time, one heart at a time.”

RELATED: Rick Santorum ‘will not stand’ for marriage equality ruling

A number of other 2016 Republican presidential candidates also made their views public at the NRLC. 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal spoke the previous evening at the event. Another candidate in attendance Friday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, said of abortion, “It is a definitional issue — an issue about what sort of society we want to have.” He said that “the issue of life gets to the heart of what this election is all about.” 

Ben Carson opted for harsher rhetoric, inveighing against “babykillers” and “the people who want to kill babies,” while Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush contributed videos. 

Abortion, Health Care and Rick Santorum

Santorum: Supreme Court doesn't have final say

Updated