Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat, warned of a “revolution” if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade as the rhetoric heated up ahead of oral argument Wednesday in a pivotal abortion case.
Ms. Shaheen’s comment came on a Monday press call regarding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which centers on the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 2018 law banning most abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation.
“I hope the Supreme Court is listening to the people of the United States because — to go back to [reporter] Adam Sexton’s question — I think if you want to see a revolution go ahead, outlaw Roe v. Wade and see what the response is of the public, particularly young people,” said Ms. Shaheen on WMUR-TV. “Because I think that will not be acceptable to young women or young men.”
State Rep. Kurt Wuelper, a Republican, accused her of “fomenting violence and extremism.”
“I think it’s totally inappropriate for anybody that’s actually in office to suggest that a Supreme Court decision that can be overturned by a vote of the people if they so choose would lead to a revolution,” said Mr. Wuelper. “That’s outrageous. Talk about fomenting violence and extremism.”
Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Law School professor, said that such “veiled threats” by lawmakers aimed at influencing court decisions are on the rise.
“Sen. Shaheen is the latest member to issue a warning to the justices that they risk ‘revolution’ if they rule against Roe v. Wade,” tweeted Mr. Turley. “Such veiled threats are meant to influence how justices interpret the Constitution.”
He referred to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, who told The Hill in May that weakening Roe would “precipitate a seismic movement to reform the Supreme Court.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer came under criticism last year for targeting Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh by saying, “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price.”
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton tweeted Tuesday that “Shaheen‘s unhinged comments threatening insurrection against the Supreme Court serves as a reminder that Schumer threats to the Supreme Court over abortion should still be criminally investigated.”
Mr. Turley said that the Constitution’s meaning “does not change depending on whether an interpretation is popular. Indeed, federal jurists are given life tenure precisely to protect them from this type of pressure and rhetoric.”
“If anything, such rhetoric may push justices to stand more steadfast in their role as interpreters of the Constitution,” he tweeted. “They are supposed to be reading the law not yielding to popular demands or, worse yet, veiled threats.”
Advocates on both sides of the issue have said that Dobbs could be the vehicle through which the court rolls back the 1973 Roe decision, which legalized abortion nationwide, and its companion, the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling.
Leading pro-choice and pro-life groups plan to hold mass rallies Wednesday outside the court during oral argument in the Mississippi case, which hinges on whether pre-viability restrictions are constitutional.
Ms. Shaheen called the case “the biggest threat to overturning Roe V. Wade in the history of that decision.”
Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, called for the court to strike down Roe v. Wade.
“This case offers the best opportunity in many years to see Roe v. Wade overturned or modified — something that is long overdue,” said Mr. Thune in a Tuesday speech on the Senate floor. “Roe v. Wade was a bad decision that should long ago have been reversed.”