Sens Manchin and Collins question whether justices lied during private meetings and committee hearings
West Virginia Sen Joe Manchin issued rare (for him) criticism of two of the most recent-appointed conservative justices on the Supreme Court after the nation’s highest court threw out decades of precedent protecting the right to abortion at the federal level.
After the news broke on Friday that Roe v Wade had been overturned, Mr Manchin issued a statement sharply condemning both Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh for their votes joining with the Court’s conservatives to dismantle Roe — the landmark abortion case that protected women from laws banning abortion for nearly 50 years.
The West Virginia senator suggested directly in his remarks that Mr Kavanaugh and Mr Gorsuch both had indicated that they believed the case to be settled law during their private conversations, which raises the question of whether two of the Court’s nine justices lied their way onto the bench.
“I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans,” Mr Manchin said, suggesting that they no longer had that trust.
He wasn’t the only senator who voted for the pair to make such a statement on Friday. Maine’s Republican Sen Susan Collins did as well, even as many in her own party were cheering the news and vowing to take the fight to ban abortions to the national stage.
“Throwing out a precedent overnight that the country has relied upon for half a century is not conservative,” argued Ms Collins, who added that the decision was “inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me”.
Friday’s ruling and the statements bringing into question the honesty of two of the judges come at a time of historic legitimacy questions and general distrust for the Supreme Court. The institution is already being battered by persistent revelations regarding the actions of Ginni Thomas, spouse of Justice Clarence Thomas, who pushed Republicans — including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — to support the effort of Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 election based on false claims of fraud.
On Friday, those questions of legitimacy were apparent outside the Court’s doors as hundreds of protesters, joined by Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, joined in chants directly calling the Court and decision itself “illegitimate”.
Numerous states including Mississippi, Texas and others were already pushing forward with unprecedented restrictions on abortion before Friday’s ruling was even announced thanks in no small part to the leak of the decision itself weeks ago.