NPR's Totenberg: Only a 'Whack Job Panel' of Judges Would Overturn Roe v. Wade

May 21st, 2019 8:49 AM

Appearing as a panel member on Sunday's Kasie DC on MSNBC, NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg predicted that a circuit court panel would have to be made up of "whack jobs" to side in favor of recently passed laws banning abortion.

At 7:18 p.m. Eastern, after host Kasie Hunt asked how the circuit courts would likely respond to the new laws, Totenberg began her analysis:

NINA TOTENBERG: Well, you know, even when I talk to pro-life people -- legal experts who are pro-life -- they agree that the Alabama law and even the so-called heartbeat laws are unconstitutional under Roe, under Casey, under every decision the Court has issued in the last, you know, since 1973.

So it would be -- you'd have to get some whack-job panel in a lower court. These people get confirmed, and when they get confirmed, they promise to abide by what the Supreme Court tells them what the law is, so they're supposed to do that. And unless somebody or some group of judges doesn't do that, there will be no conflict.

A bit later, Totenberg brought up discredited polling that suggests most Americans are very supportive of abortion being legal:

The polling data shows that actually support for abortion rights has gone up, to my surprise, but it has. But what went viral this week was that picture of all the state legislators in Alabama who had voted for this law banning virtually all abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest, and it's all white men -- and it just went viral. And that can't be good for the Republican party.

On screen was shown polling results by NBC News from years past, with 71 percent indicating that they allegedly supported Roe v. Wade in July 2018.

Reporter Jeremy Peters of the New York Times also saw "pent-up aggression" by "far-right social conservatives" behind the passage of new laws against abortion. He agreed that polling shows support for abortion:

There is clear polling for decades that people support abortion rights in the first trimester. They don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned either. So the fact that you have these right-wing, far-right social conservatives galvanizing behind these issues, I think is a reflection of a few things.

He added:

One, it's this pent-up aggression of anti-abortion activists that has been building for four decades at this point. And they also see the possibility -- although I think it's a misguided one and a bit of a misunderstanding of how the Supreme Court works .. that this is going to somehow trigger a fight over Roe v. Wade at the highest court in the country, which is not probably how the Supreme Court would start chipping away at Roe v. Wade, which it already has been doing, in the future.

Displayed on screen as Peters spoke was a Pew Research poll finding 57 percent believe abortion should be legal in either all or most cases.

Not mentioned was that other polling exists which contradicts these results and indicates greater support for restricting abortion in such a way that Roe v. Wade would have to be overturned in order to do so.