Talk to any Republican about Donald Trump's fitness for office and you will end up hearing the same response: "Sure, he's terrible, but we have to vote for him because of the Supreme Court." As this article from the New York Times pointed out last month, a large number of Trump voters are abortion voters who hate Trump. There is widespread belief among Republican voters that a vote for the Republicans is a vote against abortion. This might seem reasonable, as the party platform has been anti-abortion since 1976, the first platform after 1973's Roe v. Wade decision. But today, over 47 years later, in June Medical Services v. Russo, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution prohibits requiring abortion-providing doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. If this procedure were anything other than abortion, no one would bat an eye; what other internal procedure can be done outside a hospital and without the possible use of a hospital if things go wrong?
"And this is why we need to vote Republican!" Really? Let's look at that premise.
|Justice's Name||President||President's Party||Replaced||R/D Split||Roe/Casey/Russo|
|William O. Douglas||Roosevelt 33||Dem||xx||xx||Roe|
|William J. Brennan, Jr.||Eisenhower||Rep||xx||xx||Roe|
|Byron White||Kennedy||Dem||xx||xx||Roe, Casey|
|Thurgood Marshall||Johnson 36||Dem||xx||xx||Roe|
|Warren E. Burger||Nixon||Rep||xx||xx||Roe|
|Harry Blackmun||Nixon||Rep||xx||xx||Roe, Casey|
|Lewis F. Powell, Jr.||Nixon||Rep||xx||xx||Roe|
|William Rehnquist||Nixon||Rep||xx||Rep 6-3||Roe, Casey|
|John Paul Stevens||Ford||Rep||Douglas||Rep 7-2||Casey|
|Sandra Day O'Connor||Reagan||Rep||Stewart||Rep 7-2||Casey|
|Antonin Scalia||Reagan||Rep||Burger*||Rep 7-2||Casey|
|Anthony Kennedy||Reagan||Rep||Powell||Rep 7-2||Casey|
|David Souter||Bush 41||Rep||Brennan||Rep 7-2||Casey|
|Clarence Thomas||Bush 41||Rep||Marshall||Rep 8-1||Casey, Russo|
|Ruth Bader Ginsburg||Clinton||Dem||White||Rep 8-1||Russo|
|Stephen Breyer||Clinton||Dem||Blackmun||Rep 7-2||Russo|
|John Roberts||Bush 43||Rep||Rehnquist||Rep 7-2||Russo|
|Samuel Alito||Bush 43||Rep||O'Connor||Rep 7-2||Russo|
|Sonia Sotomayor||Obama||Dem||Souter||Rep 6-3||Russo|
|Elena Kagan||Obama||Dem||Stevens||Rep 5-4||Russo|
|Neil Gorsuch||Trump||Rep||Scalia||Rep 5-4||Russo|
|Brett Kavanaugh||Trump||Rep||Kennedy||Rep 5-4||Russo|
* = replaced Rehnquist who replaced Burger as Chief Justice
When Roe was decided on 22 January 1973, the decision was 7-2. The two dissenters were Byron White and William Rehnquist. White was a Kennedy (Democrat) appointee, so only one dissenter was a Republican nominee. The court, however, was comprised of SIX Republican appointees. And at no time since then has the court NOT been composed of a majority of Republican appointees.
"Well, you know, Republican didn't always mean the same thing." Fair enough; maybe we shouldn't expect Eisenhower (Republican) appointees to guess party ideology 20 years into the future. So let's ignore William J. Brennan and Potter Stewart. But I think it's not out of line to expect post-Goldwater (1964) Republican appointees to reflect the anti-federal lean of the current Republican Party. So the three Roe-majority Nixon appointees don't support the thesis that Republican presidential votes lead to abortion restrictions. Switch those three votes, add in White and Rehnquist, and Roe's creation of a Constitutional right to abortion doesn't exist.
Again, maybe it's unfair to expect Nixon appointees to reflect later Republican ideology. The next Supreme Court justice was John Paul Stevens, a Ford (Republican) appointee. "Still not fair because it was 1975; the Republican Party didn't adopt an anti-abortion platform plank until 1976." Fine, give Stevens a pass, too. The next five justices were Republican appointees in the anti-abortion-platform era. That alone creates a majority. By Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the court was comprised of eight Republican nominees and one Democrat nominee. The one Democrat nominee was Byron White. So if Republican presidents create abortion restrictions, Casey should have been 9-0. If we don't expect Blackmun to change his opinion, or Stevens to be bound by a then-future ideology change, it's still 7-2. And today, after nearly 50 years of anti-abortion Republican Party platforms, the court comprised of a majority of Republican appointees can't put together an anti-abortion court majority. In fact, while Republican presidents have been in office for 28 of the 48 years (58.3%), Republican presidents have nominated 10 of 14 Supreme-Court justices (71.4%).
If abortion wasn't an election issue, how would you vote? Because, despite what the Republican Party wants you to believe, abortion is not an election issue. They just get your votes by making you think that it is.