Parties prep for earthquake over future of abortion rights: The Note

Republicans and conservatives arguably have as much riding on it as Democrats.

December 1, 2021, 6:03 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's not often that a date on the Supreme Court calendar is so easily circled -- or that one case seems likely to reorder the political landscape almost regardless of how it winds up being decided.

Wednesday's Supreme Court arguments over Mississippi's near-total abortion ban marks the culmination of decades worth of efforts to get Roe v. Wade overturned. It's a test for the conservative high court -- and for both political parties, which have built foundations and expectations around abortion rights.

The case has long been about more than Mississippi, or even about Texas, with nearly half the states in the country poised to significantly restrict access to abortions if Roe is overturned, as ABC News' Devin Dwyer reports.

That's not all it might mean: "I think if you want to see a revolution, go ahead, outlaw Roe v. Wade and see what the response is of the public, particularly young people," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said this week.

Republicans and conservative groups arguably have as much riding on the decision as Democrats. This represents what is almost certainly their best shot at undoing what they view as a monumental judicial wrong.

Former President Donald Trump said in 2016 that electing him would make a constitutional right to an abortion go away "automatically." That's not how things work, of course.

But Trump got to appoint a full third of the Supreme Court after making that vow, joining three other justices appointed by Republicans. Falling short in this case would call into question a legal and judicial strategy conservatives have adhered to for just about as long as Roe has been the law of the land.

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

For the second time in two weeks, Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate race faced a major shakeup as celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz declared the launch of his 2022 campaign on Tuesday.

The news comes on the heels of Trump-backed candidate Sean Parnell dropping out of the race just before Thanksgiving after losing a contentious custody battle that raised allegations of domestic abuse.

Oz is making a splashy entrance into a field without a well-established GOP frontrunner and is leaning heavily on his medical background to bolster his stance on pandemic response policies, which he describes as government overreach.

"The government mandated policies that caused unnecessary suffering. The public was patronized and misled instead of empowered," Oz said in a Washington Examiner op-ed announcing his run. The opinion column did not explicitly mention any issues specific to Pennsylvania.

PHOTO: Dr. Oz makes an appearance at Fox News Channel Studios on March 09, 2020, in New York.
Dr. Oz makes an appearance at Fox News Channel Studios on March 09, 2020, in New York.
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images, FILE

The Harvard- and University of Pennsylvania-educated doctor also espoused conservative rhetoric by criticizing "the government and elite thinkers" for controlling "means of communication to suspend debate."

Oz's high-profile brand as a medical professional presents a new layer to a pivotal midterm race that will help determine which party controls the Senate as ongoing debates over how state and national leaders are handling the pandemic evolve among voters.

The TIP with Brittany Shepherd

Some potential GOP presidential hopefuls are seizing on a watershed political moment ahead of Wednesday's Supreme Court oral arguments that could make or break federal protections to abortion access.

Two high-profile Republican stars, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and former Vice President Mike Pence, spoke at events hosted by the anti-abortion advocacy group the Susan B. Anthony list earlier this week.

Noem, who attended a virtual event on Monday alongside Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, said the arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization are "the most important ... that we will have in decades." During that same call, Reynolds said her party has "a couple of opportunities here to make a case to undermine and remove Roe v. Wade."

Pence, speaking at an intimate gathering at Washington, D.C.'s National Press Club Tuesday morning, echoed much of Noem's messaging while projecting hope that this latest challenge to Roe may be the most successful one yet.

PHOTO: Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Press Club on Nov. 30, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Press Club on Nov. 30, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

"We may well be on the verge of an era where the Supreme Court sends Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs," he said.

Other GOP favorites, like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (whose own restrictive abortion law hangs in the balance of SCOTUS' impending decision), kept out of the immediate spotlight, though it's unlikely that sheepishness will hold. But it's no secret where a majority of Republicans fall on the issue: Back in July, Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Mike Lee -- all former SCOTUS clerks turned senators -- filed an amicus brief pleading that the court overrule its decisions in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Roe v. Wade. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another rumored presidential hopeful, joined a separate amicus brief of a dozen GOP governors who made the same plea.


During a hearing on Tuesday, federal judges questioned whether former President Donald Trump has the authority to use executive privilege to prevent the release of White House records to a House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. The U.S. Court of Appeals picked apart multiple arguments presented by members of Trump's legal team, who argued that the records requested by Congress were overbearing and lacked legislative purpose and that the records should be "designated as privileged and or otherwise restricted under the Presidential Records Act."


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning's episode begins with the highly-anticipated Supreme Court arguments over Mississippi's abortion law. ABC News Supreme Court Contributor Kate Shaw breaks down what the case could mean for Roe v. Wade. Then, ABC News Chief Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis reports on new testimony from Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. And, ABC News' Patrick Reevell takes us inside a migrant camp in Belarus where refugees have been caught in the middle of a European political battle.


  • President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the nation’s supply chains at 12:35 p.m. Then, at 2:30 p.m., he delivers remarks to commemorate World AIDS Day along with the secretary of Health and Human Services. At 5:30 p.m., Biden, the first lady, Vice President Kamala Harris and the second gentleman participate in a Hanukkah menorah lighting.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Dr. Anthony Fauci hold a press briefing at 1:30 p.m.
  • The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization at 10 a.m.
  • The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on the oversight of the Treasury Department's and Federal Reserve's Pandemic Response at 10 a.m.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing at 10 a.m. to examine pending nominations.
  • Beto O'Rourke, Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, participates in a roundtable discussion about small business and jobs in Dallas at 8 p.m.
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