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‘Don’t Be Fooled By Trump’s Failure to Endorse a Nationwide Abortion Ban’

April 09, 2024

Serena Mayeri
Serena Mayeri

“All of this is at stake in Trump’s ultimate lie: his claim to be a champion of democracy rather than the architect of its demise,” writes Prof. Serena Mayeri.

At Time, Serena Mayeri, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History (by courtesy) cautions that former President Donald Trump’s recent statements on abortion may appear moderate but that “a second Trump administration will empower an anti-abortion movement determined to make abortion illegal everywhere.”

From Time:

Former President Donald Trump announced on Truth Social that he favors state control over abortion law and policy and declined to endorse a nationwide ban. He also claimed that the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was favored by “all legal scholars” on “both sides.” Abortion is “where everybody wanted it, from a legal standpoint,” according to Trump.

All of this is patently false, of course. Decades of legal scholarship and advocacy support the federal constitutional right to abortion that Dobbs eliminated. Some scholars who support legal abortion as a matter of policy have criticized the result the Court reached in Roe, but they are in the minority. Others have critiqued the reasoning of Roe v. Wade. Some, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, prefer the equality rationale of Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), where the Court noted the central importance of reproductive freedom to women’s ability to participate fully and equally in the social, political, and economic life of the nation. But the notion that all or most legal scholars wanted the Court to obliterate the right to choose abortion is ludicrous.

No one should be fooled by Trump’s failure to endorse any of the proposed nationwide abortion bans, a move designed to appear “moderate” and lull voters into a false sense of complacency. Make no mistake: a second Trump administration will empower an anti-abortion movement determined to make abortion illegal everywhere… .

Mayeri’s scholarship focuses on the historical impact of progressive and conservative social movements on legal and constitutional change. Her recent article, “The Critical Role of History After Dobbs,” in the Journal of American Constitutional History, provides a critique of the current Supreme Court majority’s “history-and-tradition” methodology and offers a very different vision of history’s role in constitutional interpretation.

Read Mayeri’s full piece at Time.