Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the highest-ranking Republican in Congress, delivered a scathing rebuke of the leaking of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion that, if supported by other conservative Supreme Court judges, would overturn Roe v. Wade. His comments on the Senate floor Tuesday were directed at Democrats, who he said are mounting a pressure campaign against justices ahead of the actual decision.
“Liberals want to rip the blindfolds off of lady justice,” McConnell said. “They want to override impartiality with intimidation. They want to elevate mob rule over the rule of law.”
McConnell, however, avoided the topic of overturning Roe and abortion altogether.
Earlier the same day, Sen. Ted Cruz similarly speculated that “some angry left-wing clerk” leaked the draft and should be fired, prosecuted, and serve time in prison. Others compared the leak to the day a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
“Many would say that the events of January 6 was an attempt to undermine an institution,” Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, told BuzzFeed News. “I think a leak to this degree, of this magnitude, is also an effort to undermine an institution.”
The responses are a stark contrast compared to Democrats who immediately began to campaign in support of women’s rights on the heels of the report. In a joint statement, the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Attorneys General Association pushed to defend abortion access.
“In November, we must elect Democrats who will serve as the last lines of defense against the GOP’s assault on our established and fundamental freedoms,” the statement reads. “These elections will now determine whether cruel new restrictions on abortion will be put in place: whether states will be allowed to criminalize abortion and ban it even in cases of rape or incest.”
Historically, the president’s party performs poorly in the midterm elections, giving Republicans a chance to gain a majority in the House and Senate, but the election could quickly become a referendum on abortion access if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.
When the Texas legislature passed the controversial SB 8 law, which deputizes private citizens to file lawsuits to enforce a six-week abortion ban, only 5 of the 25 Republicans in the delegation made public statements about the law. Nor would they respond to requests from BuzzFeed News about the law.
It’s unclear if a ruling against Roe is enough to sway undecided voters but some Republican lawmakers’ unwillingness to tout the issue outright indicates there’s some hesitation in making anti-abortion stances a campaign pillar. A Washington Post poll conducted last week found that 54% of Americans want Roe v. Wade to be upheld, while 28% want the decision overturned, with 18% being neutral.