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The Iowa Standard spoke with Congressman Steve King last week about a variety of issues. One of them was the amicus brief that he signed on to, along with more than 200 Republican members of Congress, urging the Supreme Court to weigh overturning Roe v. Wade. Two Democrats also signed the brief.
“I don’t think I’ve missed anything that has come through that is pro-life in my 17 years here in Congress,” King said. “I don’t think there’s a single vehicle that I haven’t been on if so, it was something that we just accidentally overlooked. It’s one of those things that I signed on to and it’s almost an automatic.”
King said the members signed on to tell the Supreme Court it would not receive any pushback from Congress, and probably a bunch of others if it revisited Roe v. Wade. He said the brief shows members of Congress want a Court that will make decisions based upon the text and original understanding of the Constitution.
King said this is brief is important because he recalls being on his own, basically, during the Obergefell case, which instituted nationwide same-sex marriage.
“Hardly anybody came up and pushed and defended traditional marriage,” King said. “More or less, that went through without a lot of opposition. As far as I know, I am the only member of the U.S. House of Representatives who went over to the Supreme Court and made an argument for traditional marriage. I did that on the steps of the Supreme Court in a rally over there. I didn’t have any help from members of Congress.
“When we don’t stand up and don’t speak out and don’t have our values protected, some of that is our fault for not defending our values.”
While the Court wouldn’t publicly acknowledge these briefs have a significant impact on their decisions, he said he does believe it will consider the legal arguments they contain.
“All these signatures are something they can’t avoid considering,” he said. “It’ll be part of their knowledge base.”
The case at hand is similar to a law that Texas passed previously. It required abortionists and abortion clinics to have privileges to admit at a local hospital within 30 miles. It went to the Fifth Circuit and was upheld. But the Supreme Court struck it down. That Court, though, included Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“Today we have a Supreme Court configuration that would be hearing this case for the first time with (Neil) Gorsuch and (Brett) Kavanaugh on the bench,” King said. “We believe we have a 5-4 Supreme Court of constitutionalists.”
The Louisiana law, which is at the center of this court case, mirrored much of the Texas law and has been upheld by the Fifth Circuit.
King said there are two questions before the Supreme Court. One is, does the June Medical Services, the abortion clinic, have standing in order to bring the case.
“That’s a legitimate issue to challenge in that, what is their grievance,” King said.
He said the clinic clearly has a financial interest in it, but that isn’t the point. Roe v. Wade came about because one person brought the case, not Planned Parenthood or June Medical Clinics.
“The standing argument I think is a pretty good one,” King said. “It’s possible the Court will hear the standing argument and just throw it out based on the clinic not having a grievance, which means it wouldn’t have standing. But if a patient brings it, then the Court may want to hear it.”
The other part is whether the Court would potentially review Roe v. Wade.
“This issue has become so clouded,” King said. “There’s no clarity in those cases of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. So they may be asking the Supreme Court to clarify this.”
The case is supposed to be heard in March. The decision, King said, will be the first indication of how the new 5-4 constitutionalist majority might review subsequent abortion cases.
“That brings my focus to the heartbeat bill and, potentially, one day a Personhood bill,” King said.
Once the decision comes out, which will likely be in June, King said he looks forward to taking up the conversation, especially with National Right to Life.
“Because I had (National Right to Life’s) lawyer in here on heartbeat for National Right to Life to file a supporting brief,” King said. “But they are the lead incrementalists in the pro-life movement. Their lawyer and I went at it in here for an hour and 45 minutes.”
When all was said and done, they were discussing a possible Kennedy retirement and a potential 5-4 Court with a constitutionalist majority.
“‘Then you would support heartbeat,'” King asked. “And he said no because he doesn’t trust (Supreme Court Justice John) Roberts.”
King said this ruling will provide a valuable indication of where the Court may fall on abortion issues.
“If they uphold the Louisiana law at the Supreme Court level, it will also echo across the country,” King said. “If they simply deny standing, that means these clinics will have far fewer legs to stand on. This could be big and far-reaching. I want it to be, of course.”