Welcoming the newest Washingtonian
There’s an eight-pound, eleven ounce reason why you won’t be hearing from me for a few weeks. My wife and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world on Monday, which means I’ll be swapping the early starts and ear-piercing screams that pass for politics at the moment for, well, even earlier starts and a more excusable sort of ear-piercing scream. I look forward to writing for you again soon. Until then, my Spectator colleagues will be filing in.
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The Sturm und Drang over Roe v. Wade
For the next month, the DC Diary will be written by a rotating cast of Spectator editors. Today’s author is Matt Purple.
The fallout continues in Washington over the stunning Supreme Court leak of Samuel Alito’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
First to SCOTUS itself, where Chief Justice John Roberts has announced an investigation into the fiasco. Time will tell who the culprit is, but partisans on both sides are already pointing fingers at each other. Conservatives insist a left-leaning clerk, likely from Sonia Sotomayor’s office, sprang the leak in order to spite the whole institution, while some liberals wonder whether a conservative clerk was trying to pressure any members of that initial 5-4 majority who might be wavering under pressure from the more moderate Roberts.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that the credibility of the most trusted branch of government has taken a blow. And so to the least trusted branch of government, Congress, where irate Democrats are calling for legal abortion to be codified into federal law. This would prevent any overturning of Roe from throwing the issue back to the states. Several of those states have trigger laws that would ban abortion immediately, while several more have prior bans on abortion in place that could still take effect.
If Roe does indeed fall, then it would touch off a long and grueling culture war-cum-political fight. But this much is clear: that fight is not going to be resolved in the present Congress. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have already ruled out axing the filibuster so Roe could be enshrined with 51 votes. And even then, it’s not clear Democrats could even get to 51. When Chuck Schumer brought a similar bill to the Senate floor back in March, Manchin joined the Republicans in opposition. Pro-choice Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski might yet be courted, but that’s a big “if.”
No less than White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said Congress doesn’t have the votes. That means abortion will most likely go back to the states. And that means the midterms are about to get a whole lot more interesting.
Vance wins in Ohio and Trump wins all
Ohio and Indiana both held primaries last night, and the biggest winner was J.D. Vance, who walked away with the Republican nomination to fill the retiring Senator Bob Portman’s seat. That race was often clownish, as I chronicle in my latest column, but Vance deserves credit at least for triumphing in a wide field.
Vance’s win was also good for Peter Thiel, the PayPal billionaire who’s trying to finance the next generation of populist Republicans. All eyes now turn to Arizona, where Blake Masters, another firebrand and president of Thiel’s foundation, will be vying for that state’s GOP Senate primary on August 2.
Also feeling good this morning is Donald Trump. He endorsed 22 candidates in last night’s primaries. All of them won.
What you should be reading today
Micah Mattix: What happens after Roe?
Matt Purple: The Real Housecucks of Ohio
James Snell: Where will the war in Ukraine go next?
Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review: What Americans really think about abortion
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner: JD Vance initiates the GOP’s purge of the neocons
Ross Douthat, New York Times: What was the strategy behind the Supreme Court’s leak?
President Biden Job Approval
Approve: 43.3 percent
Disapprove: 52.3 percent
Net approval: -9.0 (RCP Average)
2022 Congressional Party Vote
Republicans: 46 percent
Democrats: 39 percent (Fox News)