Biden endorses ending filibuster to codify abortion rights

MADRID — President Biden on Thursday condemned what he called “scandalous behavior” by the Supreme Court in deciding to overturn Roe v. Wade and declared for the first time that he supported an end to the filibuster to protect a woman’s right to an abortion.

“We need to codify Roe v. Wade into law, and the way to do that is to make sure Congress votes to do it,” Biden said. “And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like the right to vote, we provide an exception for that, or a filibuster exception for that action.”

It was the second time Mr Biden has urged Congress to drop its rules requiring a 60-vote threshold in the Senate to pass a specific bill. In January, he called on lawmakers to make an exception to filibuster rules to pass legislation to add voting rights protections.

But the president and his allies in the Senate have so far failed to muster enough support to make such exceptions to the filibuster. Among those who expressed fierce opposition were two moderate Democratic senators: Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.

Speaking at a press conference in Madrid at the end of a week-long series of meetings with allies in Europe, Mr Biden called the court’s abortion ruling ‘destabilizing’ for the country and said he could understand why Americans were frustrated with the direction taken. by the court’s conservative majority.

“It’s a mistake, in my view, for the Supreme Court to do what they did,” Biden said. “I’m extremely confident that I’m going to do everything in my power, what I can legally do in terms of executive orders, as well as pushing Congress and the public.”

The country was rocked by the court ruling, which ended half a century of legal protections for women seeking abortions. The court handed the matter over to politicians, including state legislatures, many of which have already passed abortion bans triggered by the court’s decision.

The majority ruling has sparked intense anger among Democrats and other abortion-rights supporters, while gratifying the Christian right and conservatives who oppose abortion. The decision is set to reshape American politics just months before voters head to the polls for an election that will determine which party controls Congress.

The president urged Americans who support abortion rights to vote against lawmakers who support the court’s decision.

“If the polling data is correct and you think this court decision was an outrage or a material mistake, vote, show up and vote,” Biden said. “Vote out of year and vote, vote, vote. This is how we are going to change it.

Mr Biden has previously denounced the decision, calling it “a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic mistake”. He pledged to do what he can through the power of his office to help women who live in Republican-controlled states access abortion where it remains legal.

But the president remains under pressure from his party members to do more.

Asked by a reporter if he is the right messenger to lead the fight for abortion rights in the wake of the court ruling, Mr Biden appeared to bristle at the question.

“Yeah, ‘I’m the President of the United States of America,’ he said. “That makes me the best messenger.”

The president, a lawyer by training, cited his legal experience as saying he had written “a number of law review articles” on the Ninth Amendment and 14th Amendment and why privacy should be recognized as a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

“They just destroyed everything. So I am the only president they have,” he said.