Two big news items happened this week that revealed a lot about the pro-life movement’s evolving relationship with Donald Trump:
1.) Donald Trump released a list of 11 pro-life judges as potential Supreme Court nominees.
Trump explained why he released the list to Fox News:
I have a lot of people that are conservative that really like me, love everything I stand for, but they really would like to know my view, because perhaps outside of the defense of our country, perhaps the single most important thing the next president is going to have to do is pick Supreme Court justices.
And in a story in the Associated Press, several pro-life leaders praised Trump’s list.
“The battle lines have been drawn and the two sides are now clear,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List. She added the group is “already working to make the case to pro-life voters that the court matters and must be protected. This is not an election for pro-lifers to sit out.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also weighed in:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican who has refused to hold a hearing to consider Garland’s appointment to the high court, said Trump has “laid out an impressive list of highly qualified jurists.”
“Understanding the types of judges a presidential nominee would select for the Supreme Court is an important step in this debate so the American people can have a voice in the direction of the Supreme Court for the next generation,” he said.
2.) South Carolina became the 17th state to pass a ban on late-term abortions after 20 weeks.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act easily, a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks with exceptions. The bill needed 60 votes to pass in the Senate, but Democrats ultimately blocked it as the measure failed 54-42.
Many pro-life groups have committed to passing versions of this federal bill at the state level, where this strategy has been wildly successful. South Carolina now joins 16 other states in putting this law on the books, a law that will inevitably be challenged in court, setting up a Supreme Court showdown over the scope of Roe v. Wade sometime in the very near future.
So the stakes are set.
Donald Trump has declared he will nominate pro-life judges, and he has given us a list of incredible jurists to salivate over. He already has one vacancy to fill to keep the Court at 5-4. (Yes, 5-4 — Justice Anthony Kennedy has previously indicated he believes late-term abortion bans are constitutional, so it’s fair to speculate he might rule in favor of the 20-week bans.) After replacing Antonin Scalia, Trump will probably have at least one more vacancy to fill in his first term, creating the intriguing possibility of a solidly pro-life Supreme Court.
Obviously, this is a high stakes election for the pro-life movement. And judging by the words and actions of pro-life leaders, many pro-lifers appear to be placing their bets and going all-in for Donald Trump.
Jon Schweppe is the Communications Director for American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe.