Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he thinks the political impact of the revived abortion debate will be “a wash” in the midterm elections and defended Supreme Court rulings that go against the majority view in America.
Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, pointed to the 1989 ruling on flag burning, noting the justices struck down a possible ban on First Amendment grounds even though the prohibition was popular.
He made the comparison as Democrats grumble that a looming decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which granted a broad right to abortion in 1973, would be rejected by many Americans.
“For the Supreme Court to, on any issue, to reach a decision contrary to public opinion, it is exactly what the Supreme Court is about. It’s to protect basic rights, even when majorities are in favor of something else, that happens all the time,” Mr. McConnell said in a wide-ranging interview with National Public Radio published Thursday.
A leaked draft of the opinion that could overturn Roe is causing a firestorm in Washington. Democrats are hoping it will energize voters to back pro-choice lawmakers as they try to fend off a potential bloodbath this November amid concerns about inflation, crime and other crises.
Mr. McConnell told NPR that neither side seems to have a distinct edge as abortion becomes a political debate in the states.
“I think it will be certainly heavily debated in state legislative and governor’s races because the court will have, in effect, returned this issue to the political process. My guess is in terms of the impact on federal races, I think it’s probably going to be a wash,” Mr. McConnell said.
The GOP leader was known for pushing hard to install conservative judges in the courts during the Trump administration. He also led an effort to stiff-arm then-Judge Merrick Garland after former President Barack Obama nominated him during his last year in office to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Mr. McConnell said he was motivated by strict principles instead of pro-life causes or any specific issue.
“I felt very strongly that we ought to have men and women who are not what’s typically referred to as ‘judicial activist,’” he said.
Mr. McConnell also blamed declining public trust in the Supreme Court on Democrats.
“It’s no wonder that by politicizing the Supreme Court, like the political left has, including the Democratic leader of the Senate — it would affect their approval ratings. That needs to stop,” he said. “The president, who knows better, set up a commission to study the composition of the court. The Supreme Court is not broken and doesn’t need fixing.”