Biden calls leaked draft of SCOTUS opinion on abortion case a 'radical decision’

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, President Biden discussed the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that seems to overturn Roe v. Wade. "If this decision holds," he said, "it’s really quite a radical decision.”

Video transcript

JOE BIDEN: First of all, just got a call saying that it's been announced, that it is a real draft, but it doesn't represent who's going to vote for it yet. I hope there are not enough votes for it. It's the main reason why I worked so hard to keep Robert Bork off the Court. It reflects his view almost word--

Anyway. Look, the idea that concerns me a great deal, that we're going to, after 50 years, decide a woman does not have a right to choose within the limits of a Supreme Court decision in the case, number one. But even more, equally as profound is the rationale used. And it would mean that every other decision we make in the notion of privacy is thrown into question.

I realize this goes back a long way, but one of the debates I have with Robert Bork was whether Griswold v Connecticut should stand as law. The state of Connecticut said that the privacy of your bedroom, a husband or wife or a couple, could not choose to use contraception. The use of contraception was a violation of the law.

If the rationale the decision as released were to be sustained, a whole range of rights are in question. A whole range of rights. And the idea we're letting the states make those decisions, localities make those decisions, would be a fundamental shift in what we've done.

So it goes far beyond, in my view, if it becomes a law, and if what is written is what remains. It goes far beyond the concern of whether or not there is the right to choose. It goes to other basic rights. The right to marry, the right to determine a whole range of things.

Because one of the issues that this Court, many of the members of the Court, a number of the members of the Court, have not acknowledged is that there is a right to privacy in our Constitution. I strongly believe there is, I think the decision in Griswold was correct overruling, I think the decision on Roe was correct because there's a right to privacy. There can be limitations on it, but it cannot be denied.

- Do you think this precedent can irreparably change the Court?

JOE BIDEN: Did what?

- Do you think that this week has irreparably changed the Court? We've never seen this happen before.

JOE BIDEN: Well, if this decision holds, it's really quite a radical decision. And again, the underlying premise-- and again, I've not had a chance to thoroughly go into the report, the decision. But it basically says, all the decisions that have been made in your private life, who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child or not, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions. Whether or not-- how you raise your child.

What does this do? And does this mean that in Florida they can decide, they're going to pass a law, saying that same-sex marriage is not permissible, it's against the law in Florida? So there's a whole-- it's a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

- Will Senate do away with the filibuster to codify Roe?

JOE BIDEN: I'm not prepared to make those judgments now, about-- but you know, I think the codification of Roe makes a lot of sense. Look, think what Roe says. Roe says what all basic mainstream religions have historically concluded. That the right-- that the existence of human life and being is the question. Is that at the moment of conception? Is it six months? Is it six weeks? Is it is a quickening, like Aquinas argued?

I mean, so the idea that we're going to make a judgment that is going to say that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child based on a decision by the Supreme Court, I think goes way overboard.

- Thank you. Thank you, guys.

- The midterms, what does this mean for the Democrats' argument in the midterm?

JOE BIDEN: I haven't thought that through yet.

- Do changes need to be made to the Court in light of this, if this decision holds?

JOE BIDEN: I beg your pardon?

- Do changes need to be made to the Court in light of this if--

JOE BIDEN: No, we just have to choose-- I mean, look, one of the reasons why I voted against a number of the members in the Court, they refused to acknowledge that there's a Ninth Amendment. They refused to acknowledge the right to privacy. I mean, there's so many fundamental rights that are affected by that.

And I'm not prepared to leave that to the whims of the public at the moment, and local areas. Thank you so much.

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