On Tuesday morning, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had one thing to say about the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade: the problem was the leak.
“This lawless action should be investigated and punished to the fullest extent possible,” McConnell announced.
For McConnell and other top Republicans, the end of Roe would be a culminating victory for a movement that has helped them hold on to and increase their power over the past many years. Conservative activists from the grassroots have worked for decades to dismantle the 1973 decision, which protects the right of women to have an abortion.
But instead of spiking the football at a signal of potentially impending victory, many senior Republicans have seized on the leak as a grievance.
“I am in utter disbelief that the sacred confidentiality of the Supreme Court would be violated in this manner,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) said in a statement.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), head of the Republican’s Senate re-election operation, also described the Supreme Court’s process as “sacred,” and echoed McConnell in describing the Politico report as an “attack.”
“This breach shows that radical Democrats are working even harder to intimidate & undermine the Court. It was always their plan,” he intoned. “The justices cannot be swayed by this attack.”
“Yesterday’s unprecedented leak is an attempt to severely damage the Supreme Court,” fumed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in a statement. “This clearly coordinated campaign to intimidate and obstruct the Justices from upholding the Constitution must be immediately investigated.”
Republican politicians have not only profited electorally from a base that wants to see Roe dead and gone; they’ve also gone to great lengths, often against decorum and procedure, to make it happen.
In 2016, McConnell refused to give then-appellate judge Merrick Garland a vote, after President Obama nominated him in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.
That breach paved the way for President Trump to nominate Justice Neil Gorsuch the next year. McConnell attributed his decision at the time to the fact that Scalia died during an election year; the public, he claimed, should weigh in before a new justice was voted on.
In 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died less than two months before the presidential election. McConnell fast-tracked Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination in that time, cementing Republican control over the court.
On Tuesday, McConnell added in his statement that the court shouldn’t worry: the Senate would support it, no matter what.
“I want all nine Justices to know there are still principled Senators who have their backs no matter what,” he said