As you may recall, Donald Trump screwed up pretty badly on the subject of abortion policy a while back, managing to offend everybody on every side of the issue with a glib endorsement of the idea of “punishing” women who have or seek abortions in a hypothetical Trump World. It particularly alarmed anti-abortion activists, already worried about Trump’s past pro-choice pronouncements: Even if he wanted to Get Right on the issue, he sure was having trouble reading the basic talking points.
Trump calmed the RTLers a bit with serial assurances that he’d appoint Supreme Court justices sure to fight the idea of a constitutional right to an abortion. But now he’s done it again.
On Monday, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the cause in a decision overturning a much-emulated Texas law that used spurious medical grounds to create regulations driving abortion clinics out of business. Trump maintained radio silence for three days instead of joining the conservative assault on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was the surprise vote to kill a law that arguably pursued the trail he blazed in a 2007 decision upholding “health-based” state abortion restrictions. Indeed, #NeverTrump conservatives used the silence to warn Republicans that the presumptive nominee just didn’t get it.
Well, Trump commented on the situation on a conservative radio show today, and it would appear he was not very well-briefed, to put it mildly:
After several days of silence regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling against a Texas anti-abortion law, Donald Trump on Thursday finally weighed in on the decision and claimed that such a ruling would not occur if he were to appoint the next Supreme Court justice.
“Now if we had — Scalia was living or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that. Okay? It would’ve been the opposite,” Trump told conservative radio host Mike Gallagher.
I guess he was under the impression that this was a 5-4 decision. Either that or he’s really, really bad at basic arithmetic. It would have taken two new justices to produce “the opposite” in this case.
Now you may think I’m playing “gotcha” here or focusing on minutiae. But this just happens to be an extremely important issue for an extremely important GOP constituency group that largely (a) thinks legalized abortion is an “American Holocaust” and (b) is understandably paranoid about the abortion jurisprudence of Republican presidential nominations to the Court. After all, the last time the Court chose to reaffirm the basic abortion rights assertion of Roe v. Wade, in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, all five Justices in the majority were appointed by GOP presidents. So it’s a big deal if a Republican presidential nominee does not bother to get his facts straight. He might forget his promises along with his arithmetic.