Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., expressed her belief Thursday that the leak of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion — which indicates the court will overturn Roe vs. Wade — was designed to rally Democrats, and she said that is “shameful.”
“It was leaked to galvanize the left because the president and his party are falling very short in terms of reeling in inflation and trying to deal with immigration and other issues,” she said during a virtual press briefing from her Washington office.
Taking such a tactic to try to erode confidence in the court and use public opinion against it for political purposes is “shameful,” she said. “This is an attempt to erode one of our main institutions in our government. I am very disappointed by that.”
National polls show Democrats are facing an uphill battle in the midterms in November as Republicans are poised to possibly retake the House as well as the Senate.
“It’s hard to tell politically what the effect will be,” she said of the leak, even if the purpose is to energize the left. “But it could have the opposite effect and energize the people in the pro-life movement.”
Capito said that whatever the political impact may be, the breach of security was “egregious” and “shocking.”
“I am certain whoever did this, when they get to the bottom of it, will have a high price to pay…,” she said, “and they should.”
Capito said no one yet knows what the Supreme Court’s final opinion will be as it won’t be released until late June or early July, but the leak of the opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito in essence says Roe vs. Wade will be overturned.
In Roe vs. Wade, abortions are legal up to viability (can live outside mother), which is about 24 weeks. That federal ruling has been in effect since 1973 and has previously been upheld in various cases. But during arguments in the Mississippi case last year some members of the conservative-leaning court indicated at least a change in giving states more leeway or possibly ending Roe vs. Wade altogether and leaving it up to the states to decide.
Leaving it up to the states is a position Capito said she would support in a recent interview.
“The real question that will be answered is to have the states make that decision...,” she said. “It may become a total state issue. I would be supportive of that.”
Capito also said Roe vs. Wade has been in place for 50 years and there has been time for science to evolve as well as people’s opinions.
“There will be a big and broad discussion in every state on this once the Supreme Court makes the decision,” she said. “I believe in the court. I voted for several of them.”
Capito also on Thursday addressed issues raised by her colleague, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who said she interviewed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh during the confirmation proceedings and they “misled” her by indicating Roe vs. Wade is established law with no indication they would overturn it.
Capito said when she interviewed the nominees she did not ask them directly about their stand on Roe vs. Wade.
“I didn’t ask for a plain-out yes or no because I knew I would not get this from them,” she said. “They did not assure me Roe vs. Wade would stay in effect, but they did assure me they would look at a strict interpretation.”
The Supreme Court should be held in high esteem, she said, above the political fray, but such breaches could damage the court.
Capito also said the contentious confirmation hearings help demean the court as well, and that should change.
“The process of confirming a Supreme Court justice has deteriorated…,” she said, and it involves both sides of the aisle injecting politics with questions and personal attacks.
“It does have an effect on the court now,” she said of the impact of those hearings. She said confidence in, and respect for, the court needs to be restored in terms of changing those confirmation hearings.
No one can agree with all decisions, she said, but they should be accepted and the court should be respected.