Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy advocated in favor of overturning the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, calling it “one of the most poorly reasoned decisions” on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Kennedy addressed the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up in May. The case responds to a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks of gestation, challenging the precedent that the right to an abortion is protected before fetal viability.
Kennedy said that lawmakers have ongoing debates on ways to “protect” and “lift up” the powerless, including unborn and potential lives. The senator said Roe v. Wade gives the “managerial elite” the power to rule over moral decisions for the rest of the American people, stripping them of the right to make those decisions independently.
“Now Roe v. Wade is about abortion, we know that. But it’s also about something else. Roe v. Wade is also about federalism. Roe v. Wade is also about the American people,” Kennedy said. “Roe v. Wade is about whether a finite group of the managerial elite, and by the managerial elite I mean the entrenched politicians, the bureaucracy, the media, the academics, the corporate phonies.”
“All of whom think they’re smarter and more virtuous than the American people, should have the right to make moral decisions for the American people instead of the American people making those decisions for themselves. That’s what Roe v. Wade is about.”
In the case of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled on Jan. 22, 1973, that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion before the point of fetal viability—24-28 weeks of gestation—while granting states the individual right to prohibit abortion after the fetus is considered viable, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The senator called himself “pro-life” and “anti-Roe v. Wade,” arguing that supporters of abortion on demand understand that the 1973 decision was wrongly decided by the Court. (RELATED: Here’s What 375 Women Told The Supreme Court About The Harms Of Late-Term Abortion)
“Even pro-choice legal scholars, who believe in legalized abortion on demand, understand, as does every fair-minded person who knows a law book from a J. Crew catalog, that Roe v. Wade is one of the most arbitrary, its one of the most adhoc, it’s one of the most poorly reasoned decisions in the history of the United States.”
Kennedy said that there’s “no foundation” in the Constitution that grants a citizen the right to an abortion or privacy, nor does it define the term “trimester.”
The senator said that the Supreme Court, through Dobbs v. Jackson, has the “rare opportunity” to grant the states the individual right to enforce their own legislation on abortion. He argued that it is the people, rather than the government, who should have the “value judgements” regarding abortion.
“The issue for the Supreme Court in Dobbs is what’s the appropriate political forum to make these value judgements: Is it the government, or is it the people? And I hope, Mr. President, that the United States Supreme Court takes advantage of this rare opportunity before it,” Kennedy concluded.
The Mississippi legislation banning abortion at 15 weeks—before the point of viability—was challenged by the Center of Reproductive Rights, the law firm Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and the Mississippi Center for Justice. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law in 2019, prompting the state of Mississippi to take the case to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has prepared to begin oral arguments in the case challenging the Mississippi law. Numerous briefs have been filed to the Court on behalf of women, religious organizations, and pro-life advocacy groups urging the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.