Pinkerton: The Democrats’ Rollercoaster on Roe Goes Up, Down, and Maybe Off the Rails

W. McNamee, O. Douliery, S. Olson, E. Schaff, P. Morigi/Getty

It hasn’t been a week since the May 2 leak of the presumed Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and yet already Democrats have been through a rollercoaster of emotions: first, they were excited at the prospect of beating Republicans on the abortion issue; second, they were angry at the thought of not beating Republicans; third, their anger started to turn inward on themselves; and fourth, they are edging toward a self-destructive court-packing plan. Let’s look at each in turn. 

First, Democrats Happy

In the immediate aftermath, Democrats were elated. Sample day-after headline from NBC News: “Democrats energized after leaked abortion decision jolts midterms.” Indeed, Democrats raised a quick $12 million; in those golden hours, Dems seemed sure that big-donor support is the same thing as voter support.

Over at Daily Kos, a blog for activist lefties, one item ran: “We didn’t want this outcome on Roe v. Wade.  But abortion may be the midterm issue we’ve waited for.”  And here’s another: “Tectonic event has ‘bent the arc’ towards Democrats – the GOP may very well be over.”

The Main Stream Media was on it.  On the day after the leak, this author happened to be watching CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” and the first 12 minutes of the program were devoted to the Supreme Court story.  Then the network broke away for a little bit of Ukraine news and then came back for more on SCOTUS.  And as any channel- or site-surfer knows, that was the pattern for the entire MSM.

Supreme Court justices pose for a group photo on April 23, 2021. Seated from left: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. Standing from left: Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. (Erin Schaff/Getty Images)

Democrats were further buoyed by MSM insta-polls.  On May 3, The Washington Post reported that 54 percent of Americans thought the Roe decision should be upheld while 28 percent believe it should be overturned—“a roughly 2-to-1 margin,” the Post helpfully added.

That might seem like great news for Democrats, but a closer look at the question asked shows something interesting: This poll—like most polls—never defines what’s actually at stake in the potential overturning of  Roe.  And an ill-defined question produces an ill-considered answer.

Here’s the key point: A high court verdict overturning Roe will not, in and of itself, ban abortion.  Instead, an anti-Roe ruling will simply send the issue back to the states, for them to decide.  This basic truth is much smudged by the MSM, which is eager to scare Americans into thinking that the end of Roe means the beginning of a Handmaid’s Tale-type right-wing totalitarian theocracy.  Nationwide.  Everywhere.  Jerry Falwell in your bedroom!

But of course, none of that is true.  According to the liberal Guttmacher Institute, 16 states and the District of Columbia have explicitly legislated that abortion will be legal in their jurisdictions, Roe or no Roe.  These states include California, Massachusetts, and New York.  In other words, in some large and ardently pro-choice states, nothing will change.

Moreover, Guttmacher further estimates that another half-dozen or so states will quickly pass abortion-protection bills. So that brings the total of pro-choice states up to around half of the 50 states. Indeed, some of those states are already promoting themselves as abortion destinations in the post-Roe era.  Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot declared that her city “will continue to be a haven for those seeking access to the full range of safe reproductive care.” And California might up the ante; the state is considering setting up a special fund to pay for out-of-staters to have abortions there.

This point can’t be emphasized enough, even if abortion advocates constantly de-emphasize it:  Even without Roe, states that want legal abortion—even up to the last minute of the third trimester—can have it.

In fact, as Breitbart News’ Ken Klukowski shrewdly observes, it’s likely that the pro-choice reality in many states—including the biggest—will be obvious in time for the November elections. That is, in a few months, people in D.C., California, and New York—where so much of the media are concentrated—will wake up and realize that for all the huffing and puffing, nothing where they live has changed.  And that’s a big reason why, Klukowski concludes, the impact of the abortion issue on the upcoming midterm elections is likely to be minimal.

Second, Democrats Angry at Republicans

So the news is not all good for Democrats—and in fact, may actually be pretty bad. According to the same Guttmacher Institute, 23 states have abortion bans in place, which would come into effect if Roe were overturned. This roster of states includes blue Michigan, which has a stern law from 1931 still on the books—and yes, it’s revealing that, in the half-century after the 1973 Roe decision, the state legislature never saw fit to change that law. So maybe free abortion is not as popular as its advocates would have us believe.

Looking ahead to a post-Roe environment, Guttmacher finds that a total of 26 states will restrict or ban abortion. For the curious, those states add up to 262 electoral votes, just eight shy of what’s needed to win the presidency—and notably, the Guttmacher tally does not include such relatively conservative states as Kansas, New Mexico, and North Carolina.

Findings such as these quickly took their toll on Democratic euphoria.

Politico, which broke the Supreme Court story on the 2nd, followed up on the 4th with a piece headlined, “Democrats skeptical SCOTUS will save them in November.”  The piece quoted one Democratic strategist—who began her career as an abortion activist—saying, “My fear continues to be that sometimes we as Democrats run on things that we wish the voters cared about, rather than what the voters do care about.”

Democrats were further discouraged by another poll, this one from Fox News, completed just before the leak.  It asked voters about the 2018 abortion law in Mississippi, which is the subject of the Supreme Court case at issue, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That law restricts abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy; according to the poll, 54 percent of Americans support it, and 41 percent oppose it.  In other words, the pro-life position is ahead by 13 points.

Yet if we step back, we can see that some restrictions on abortion have always been popular.  Since 1975, the Gallup Poll has been asking the question, “Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances or illegal in all circumstances?” And the findings have been remarkably consistent: for half a century, roughly half the population has been answering in the affirmative to “legal only under certain circumstances.”

And guess what: The Mississippi says exactly that: legal only under certain circumstances.

So we can see: If and when the current issue is explained to people—Massachusetts will handle Roe’s overturning one way, and Mississippi will handle it another way—people relax.

Pro-life activists demonstrate in front of the the U.S. Supreme Court during the 47th annual March for Life on January 24, 2020, in Washington, DC. (OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Pro-abortion activists scream and yell obscenities at a group of pro-life activists during a demonstration on May 7, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In the meantime, rapid-reactors at the National Republican Senatorial Committee are highlighting a poll that outlines the real issue with Roe. It asks Americans if they agree with this statement: “Unelected federal judges should not make laws. States should be able to establish their own laws regarding abortion, as they do on everything else.” Fifty-four percent agreed, and 32 percent disagreed.  So now, Republicans have six months to get this message across: Ending Roe is about federalism and state sovereignty—abortion itself will be left to the states.

Maybe that message is already getting out: A new CNN poll, taken since the leak, finds that the Republican situation, heading into the ’22 midterms, is actually improving.

Now we’re starting to realize why Democrats’ smiles are turning upside down, into frowns. Even President Joe Biden, our supposedly devout Catholic president, has woken up to the challenge; he now warns of Republican victories, averring to the Democratic faithful, “This MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that has existed in American history.” Given that American history includes home-grown Whiskey Rebels, Confederates, Communists, and Nazis–groups that were met with violence–it’s obvious that Biden is smearing with a heavy and broad brush, potentially inciting his followers.

And that could lead to tragedy. On May 5, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki: “Activists posted a map with the home addresses of the Supreme Court justices.  Is that kind of thing this president wants?” To which Psaki replied blandly, “I don’t have an official U.S. government position on where people protest.” Psaki added, “The president, for all those women, men, others who feel outraged, who feel scared, who feel concerned, he hears them, he shares that concern and that horror that he saw in that draft opinion.”

In this sort of supercharged environment, her words can be seen as turning a blind—and maybe even encouraging—eye to whatever comes next. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley immediately responded, “Today’s ‘nonposition’ of the White House on the targeting of justices at their homes is one of the lowest moments in American politics.”

In fact, on the night of the leak, May 2, an angry crowd gathered in front of the Supreme Court building—funny how that happens—chanting, “Fascist scum have got to go.” And Breitbart News chronicled disturbances and attacks in Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. 

Vandals in Colorado desecrated a Catholic Church with pro-abortion messages in the wake of Politico publishing a leaked Supreme Court decision signaling a possible end to Roe v. Wade.

Pro-abortion activists desecrated the Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Bolder, CO, with pro-abortion messages on May 4, 2022, following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. (Twitter/Catholic News Agency)

In the meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw another log on the fire, going on MSNBC to call for the mobilization of “public sentiment” against the court’s supposed “radical” decision. (And law professor Turley takes note of more threatening and bullying from the MSM here.)

Abortion rights activist protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday, May 5, 2022 in Washington. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday. Whatever the outcome, the Politico report represents an extremely rare breach of the court's secretive deliberation process, and on a case of surpassing importance. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Pro-abortion activists protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on May 5, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

So now we can only wonder: What are Antifa types thinking right now upon hearing the words of Biden and Psaki? Perhaps he/she/they will ask: If I commit some heinous act, will I be punished? Will I even be arrested? After all, as we know, the violence and terror that erupted around the country in 2020 was almost never punished—even as in Portland it stretched for more than a year. (Fortunately, as Breitbart News scooped, Virginia’s Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, has stepped up to protect the potentially endangered Supreme Court justices.)

In the meantime, Democratic social-media activist Brian Tyler Cohen tweeted to his half-million followers on May 5, “Vote these depraved Christofascist mother[bleepers] out of office.” That same day, Chelsea Manning urged his—oops, her—followers: “You should consider arming yourselves, then finding others to train with in teams and learn how to defend your community—we may need these skills in the very near future.”

Yes, it’s possible that domestic discord could become a fact—and for some, a career. Carrie Severino, head of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, notes that one activist group is openly offering “stipends” to protestors. How much “dark money” is out there for dirty deeds, done not cheap?

Needless to say, if any aggression is committed against conservative figures, it will play badly for the party of the aggressors. And while Democrats know that in their heads, they may have trouble keeping the hearts, and passions, of their activist base in check.

Third, Democrats Mad at Themselves

On May 5, Young Turks talking head Ana Kasparian blasted Democrats as “ineffective and pathetic.”  Now one could say that Kasparian doesn’t know what she’s talking about—Democrats are not, of course, all powerful—and one could further say that she holds no political office.

Yet some top Democrats, who do hold office, are joining in this sort of free-floating rage. One such is California governor Gavin Newsom, who stood with Planned Parenthood sign-wavers and demanded:

Where the hell’s my party? Where’s the Democratic Party? Why aren’t we standing up more firmly, more resolutely? Why aren’t we calling this out? This is a coordinated, concerted effort. And yes, they’re winning. They are. They have been. Let’s acknowledge that. We need to stand up, where’s the counteroffensive?

Newsom’s idea of a counter-offensive is to double down on pro-abortion legislation in his state (which will please his donors, even as it might not sit so well with Hispanics, who tend to be more pro-life and who constitute 39 percent of the state’s population). And yet for now, California is firmly controlled by pro-choicers in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and so Newsom’s gesture will be seen as just that—a gesture.

Most likely, hardcore Democrats will want more.

Matt Perdie / Breitbart News

Fourth, Democrats Lean Toward a Destructive Plan

Here’s another recent headline from Daily Kos: “America doesn’t want abortion overturned, does want an expanded Supreme Court.” Hmm. Expanded Supreme Court. You know, as in court-packing, which this author has written about here at Breitbart News, in 2020 and 2021. Short version: In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to expand the court from nine to fifteen, and the gambit blew up in his face.  Moreover, Democrats as a whole were clobbered in the follow-on 1938 midterm elections, losing eight seats in the Senate and 81 seats in the House.

For his part, Biden has always been wary of the court-packing idea. Yet under pressure from the Democratic base, in 2021, his administration set up a commission that entertained the idea of court-packing while refusing to endorse it.

Left-wing activists unfurl a banner in front of the White House calling on President Biden to expand (or pack) the Supreme Court on December 7, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Take Back The Court)

Yet the cause of court-packing has never stopped bubbling. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) endorsed it in her 2020 presidential campaign (as did Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, both now, of course, in the administration). Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has long been a champion of court-packing, as is Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA); he just reiterated his call.

Importantly, loud voices in the MSM are edging that way. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin–long a favorite of the Biden administration—just issued this warning to the Supreme Court: 

Perhaps this court will realize its choice: end its play for theocratic supremacy, or face a seriously reimagined court in which many of its current occupants won’t be there as long as they imagined.

Threat much?

Today, the left is busy spinning out scenarios whereby Roe is just the first domino: NPR worries that the court could next target gay marriage, contraception, and interracial marriage. All that is highly speculative, of course, and yet for the tote-bag and telethon set, it’s a palpable fear—and Democrats are counting on it.

Biden is seizing upon this fear: “This is about a lot more than abortion,” he said and then asked: ”What are the next things that are going to be attacked?”

Here’s a fresh headline in The Hill: “House Democrats call for Supreme Court expansion in wake of potential Roe reversal.” The piece quotes many top Democrats, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, chair of the 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, endorsing a court-packing push. And now Barack Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder–a major force in liberal-left politics to this day–is out with a new book calling for court-packing, among other big changes.

So will Democrats pull the pin on court-packing? Or some other radical “reform” of the high court? We can’t yet know. All we do know is that the Democrats, having ridden the ups and downs of the Roe-llercoaster these past few days, are increasingly resolved that they have to do something.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.