With the presidential election quickly approaching, voters have a short amount of time to choose their candidate. Besides simply exercising patriotic duty, the number one reason to vote for a particular person for president, as msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell has stated numerous times on The Last Word, is the United States Supreme Court.
Vice President Joe Biden echoed that sentiment at Thursday’s vice presidential debate, warning Americans of the fragility of abortion and reproductive rights laws on the books.
Martha Raddatz of ABC News asked Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan a heavy question about how their Catholic faith has played a role in their personal views on abortion. While Ryan answered the question by recounting a personal anecdote of how he and his wife dubbed their daughter, Liza, “Bean” because she looked like a bean at seven weeks on the ultrasound, the vice president explained how religion defines who he is and his views on abortion policy.
BIDEN: My religion defines who I am, and I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And has particularly informed my social doctrine. The Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who — who can’t take care of themselves, people who need help. With regard to - with regard to abortion, I accept my Church’s position on abortion as a — what we call a (inaudible) doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.
But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman. I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that - women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I’m not going to interfere with that. With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.
That is a fact. Now with regard to the way in which the - we differ, my friend says that he — well I guess he accepts Governor Romney’s position now, because in the past he has argued that there was — there’s rape and forcible rape. He’s argued that in the case of rape or incest, it was still — it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend.
The Romney-Ryan campaign’s sort of softened its position on abortion after Romney told The Des Moines Register he has no plans to pursue changing abortion-related legislation, if elected.
Following up, Raddatz asked whether those who believe abortion should be legal should be worried if Romney gets elected. Ryan replied, “We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision,” indicating that elected officials, instead of the U.S. Supreme Court with its 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, should settle the matter on the legality of abortion.
RADDATZ: I want to go back to the abortion question here. If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?
RYAN: We don’t think that un-elected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination.
Biden quickly pointed out what the Supreme Court would look like under a Romney-Ryan administration, and went further to state that whoever wins the election will likely appoint two new Supreme Court judges and that the Roe V. Wade decision would no longer be stare decisis, or settled law.
BIDEN: The court — the next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees. That’s how close Roe v. Wade is. Just ask yourself, with Robert Bork being the chief adviser on the court for — for Mr. Romney, who do you think he’s likely to appoint? Do you think he’s likely to appoint someone like Scalia or someone else on the court far right that would outlaw (inaudible) - outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen.
I guarantee you, that will not happen. We picked two people. We pick people who are open-minded. They’ve been good justices. So keep an eye on the Supreme Court…
RYAN: Was there a litmus test on them?
BIDEN: There was no litmus test. We picked people who had an open mind; did not come with an agenda.
If the country were to elect Mitt Romney as president, their administration would have the power to appoint members of the Court that decides the constitutionality of health care reform and as Joe Biden intimated last night, have the power to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Mitt Romney’s website clearly states if the the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, the “states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.” As Ryan and Biden both articulated their abortion stances, this is further proof that the future of the Supreme Court alone is reason enough to vote on November 6.