Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer for The New Yorker and CNN’s Senior Legal Analyst, weighed in on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s sudden announcement that he will retire from the Supreme Court, and his prediction is dire.
While Toobin is far from the only analyst to posit that Kennedy’s retirement places Roe v. Wade at risk, he was far more specific: He predicts abortion will be illegal in almost half of the country within 18 months.
Anthony Kennedy is retiring. Abortion will be illegal in twenty states in 18 months. #SCOTUS
— Jeffrey Toobin (@JeffreyToobin) June 27, 2018
Responses to Toobin’s tweet were rife with alarm with some likening the death knell of abortion rights to the rise of a society as depicted in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, in which women are forced to bear children against their will. Others pointed out that banning abortion would not necessarily get rid of abortion––it would only make the procedure less safe, as history has shown us. Still others railed against Kennedy for not waiting to announce his retirement until after November’s midterm elections.
getting my bonnet out as I prepare to bear children against my will when Supreme Court Justice Pirro is confirmed.
— Butterfly Sonja🦋 (@Butterfly_Sonja) June 27, 2018
Abortion has always existed. It will never go away. Women will always need it. The only thing outlawing abortion does is deny poor people access to safe abortions. The rich will have the necessary connections, and poor women will bleed to death.
— Laura Krabappel (@laurakrabappel) June 27, 2018
This is apocalyptic news for SCOTUS & America.
It’s already been clear in recent terms, since Trump was elected, that Kennedy gives zero shits about his legacy.
By retiring now, he just guaranteed & cemented the further deterioration of the rule of law in this nation. Bastard.
— darsky: Crusader for Justice (@darsky) June 27, 2018
The tweet garnered the attention of the pro-life contingent, too, with some applauding Kennedy’s announcement, viewing it as an opportunity for President Donald Trump to codify his legislative agenda.
You mean they are going to outlaw killing babies? Women cannot act like sluts anymore? There is a thing such as condoms as a backup plan
— Deplorable Chong (@RChong11) June 27, 2018
No more murdering of innocent babies….sounds good to me!!! #ProLife
— Bryan Mays (@bryan_mays) June 27, 2018
Some, like the Twitter user below, accused Toobin’s more progressive followers of overreacting.
— MC (@FreeToTweet1975) June 27, 2018
Toobin elaborated further during an appearance on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” where he was joined by other legal analysts with some observations of their own.
“Any Supreme Court nomination is important, but this one is the most important because it will change the partisan makeup of the court,” he told Jake Tapper. “Anthony Kennedy… was mostly with the conservatives, while on a couple of key issues, most notably abortion rights, he was the vote that was keeping Roe v. Wade the law of the land. That is done. Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned. There is no doubt that the people advising President Bush-uh, President Trump, in making this nomination is to pick someone who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
The states, Toobin continued, “know this”:
They will start passing right now bills banning abortion altogether, and I guarantee you in the next year, the Supreme Court will have cases that will challenge Roe v. Wade, and I think it is doomed. Abortion will be illegal in a significant chunk of this country within 18 months.
— FanNewsClips (@FanNewsClips) June 27, 2018
Tapper then turned to analyst Laura Coates for her perspective, asking her if Democrats even have a course of action given the seriousness of Kennedy’s announcement.
“Well, that’s partly true in terms about the Congressional level,” she replied, “but remember: All politics is local.”
She added: “So if the states are asked to decide this issue, local voting is very important to decide who is going to be in office to do that. But I do agree it’s going to change the ideological and the partisan viewpoint of the Supreme Court, but there’s still a lot of steps that have to go in order to get a case before the Supreme Court and to overturn 40-year-old precedent.”
She provided this scenario:
Now it may be they will do death by a thousand cuts and they’ll narrow it and continue to constrain the rights and move the date at which the viability of the fetus may be considered enough for the states to say ‘We can do something about this,’ but I think it’s more likely they’ll try to narrow it and constrain as opposed to simply overturn it entirely. That would actually be quite, quite monumental and it could happen, but I think the more likely scenario is the narrowing and constraint of it and the states could prevent that ultimately by the right to run cases and the right to legislation on a state level.