August 17, 2022

President Biden made an extraordinary attack on the Supreme Court during a news conference in Madrid Thursday, accusing the judiciary of “outrageous behavior” in overturning Roe v. Wade last week — before adding that he supported Senate Democrats changing the 60-vote filibuster to codify abortion rights into law.

“The one thing that has been destabilizing is the outrageous behavior of the Supreme Court of the United States,” Biden told reporters at the conclusion of this week’s NATO summit. “And overruling not only Roe v. Wade, but essentially challenging the right to privacy. We’ve been a leader in the world in terms of personal rights and privacy rights. And it is a mistake, in my view, for the Supreme Court [to] do what it did.”

“I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law and the way to do that is to make sure that the Congress votes to do that,” Biden later said. “And if the filibuster gets in the way … we provide an exception for this.”

Biden takes questions from reporters after the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday.
Reuters
Biden takes questions from reporters after the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on Thursday.
The president answered questions on Roe v. Wade, gas prices and the war in Ukraine.
Reuters

Democrats tried once before to enshrine the right to an abortion in federal law, but failed to do so before the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24.

In that ruling, the court upheld a Mississippi law prohibiting the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy — and found that the final say over whether abortion should be legal rests with the voters and their representatives.

Two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have expressed opposition to changing the chamber’s legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass most bills.

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Biden previously spoke out against changing Senate rules, but threw his support behind altering the filibuster in January in an attempt to pass two sweeping election reform bills. That effort failed when Manchin and Sinema voted against the so-called “nuclear option.”

When NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell later pressed the president on his support for changing the filibuster, Biden clarified that the change was meant to enshrine the “right to privacy, not just abortion rights.”

“But yes, abortion rights,” the president added.

Before wrapping up the news conference, the president appealed to voters to express their dissatisfaction with the ruling at the ballot box.  

“I feel extremely strongly that I’m going to do everything in my power which I legally can do in terms of executive orders as well as push the Congress and the public,” Biden said. “The bottom line here is if you care … and you think this decision by the court was an outrage or a significant mistake, vote, show up and vote. Vote in the off year and vote, vote, vote. That’s how we’ll change it.” 

This is a developing story.