Manchin stays firm in face of abortion leak: "We've protected women's rights with the filibuster"

"The filibuster is the only protection we have in democracy," the West Virginia Democrat said

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published May 3, 2022 2:49PM (EDT)

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is reportedly unwilling to nuke the filibuster in order to protect Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established America's constitutional right to abortion, even as Republicans and anti-abortion activists are calling for a nationwide ban.

On Tuesday, asked whether he'd get rid of the cloture threshold in order to enshrine Roe into law, Manchin told reporters that "the filibuster is the only protection we have in democracy."

"We've protected women's rights with the filibuster," he added. 

In the past, Manchin has consistently defended the filibuster despite progressive calls to limit or eliminate it altogether. 

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., his fellow obstructionist, also rejected the idea of scrapping the procedure this week, saying that "protections in the Senate safeguarding against the erosion of women's access to health care have been used half-a-dozen times in the past ten years, and are more important now than ever."

Their remarks come just a day after The Washington Post reported that GOP lawmakers are arranging meetings to push through a nationwide ban after six weeks into pregnancy, with Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, gearing up to introduce a piece of legislation that would achieve just that.

RELATED: Samuel Alito's leaked anti-abortion decision: Supreme Court doesn't plan to stop at Roe

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, told the Post that she has spoken with ten potential GOP presidential candidates who would throw their support behind a nationwide ban. 

Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Director Kelley Robinson has called the effort "terrifying."

"By [Republicans] saying out loud that their goal is to push a nationwide abortion ban, it makes it clear that we have to elect more pro-reproductive health champions on the national level and in the states," Robinson told the Post.

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At present, a nationwide prohibition on abortion would be exceptionally difficult for Republicans to pass in a 50-50 Senate. Republicans would have to overcome an inevitable Democratic filibuster, which requires that the GOP garner at least 60 votes in support of a cloture. Additionally, President Biden would have to rubber-stamp such a law, which he almost certainly would not do. 

But while Republicans are blocked on the legislative front, they might have their day in court. 

On Monday, in a first-of-its-kind report, Politico published a leaked copy of the Supreme Court's majority opinion initial draft on Roe. In the draft, penned by conservative Associate Justice Samuel Alito back in February, Alito calls Roe "egregiously wrong from the start."

"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," he added. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."

RELATED: Why the right-wing is having a complete meltdown over the Supreme Court's leaked anti-abortion draft

Meanwhile, many Republican-led states, like Texas, Alabama, Arizona, already have taken it upon themselves to curtail abortion access, meaning that at least 13 state would institute bans the moment that Roe is struck down

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Abortion Brief Dobbs V. Mississippi Filibuster Joe Manchin Roe V. Wade Scotus Senate Supreme Court