By Ashok Nilakantan
New York, Jul 1 (IANS): US President Joe Biden has vowed to end any filibuster on women's abortion rights in the Congress even as his supporters in the democratic party wanted to codify the Supreme Court Judgement of Roe (1973) to appease enraged women on the issue as the verdict has sparked off a nationwide protest among liberals and abortion rights activists and women's groups.
Biden condemned on Thursday the SC verdict overturning the Roe 1973 ruling upholding a woman's right to abortion as "outrageous behavior" saying for the first time that he supported ending the filibuster on the issue as protection to women and a broader constitutional right to privacy.
He was speaking at a Press Conference in Madrid on the last leg of his G7 visit to Bavaria in Germany and other countries. It is a striking assertion from a president, who is steeped in the traditions of the Senate and has resisted calls from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to scrap the longstanding Senate practice of requiring a 60-vote threshold to pass legislation. But in chiding the justices for a decision he called "destabilizing" for the country, the president said it was time to push Congress to act, USA today reported from Madrid.
"We have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law, and the way to do that is to make sure the Congress votes to do that," Biden said. "And if the filibuster gets in the way, it's like voting rights, we provide an exception for this, or an exception to the filibuster for this action."
For a second time, Biden has urged Congress to scrap its rules on the filibuster because only in early January this year he called on lawmakers to make an exception to pass legislation to add voting rights protections.
Speaking at a press conference in Madrid ending a week-long series of meetings with NATO allies in Europe, Biden lamented the impact of the court's decision on a woman's right to have an abortion, calling Roe a "critical, critical piece".
But he also sought to broaden his critique of the ruling, saying it threatened decades of court precedent guaranteeing other fundamental tenets of American life based on the idea of a right to privacy in the Constitution.
Biden's public comments encourage and strengthen democrats in his party to find ways and means to codify the Roe judgement cutting across any filibuster they may encounter in the Congress. His comments also lend support to the public chorus warning that the legality of gay marriage and the availability of legal contraception could be at risk if the court -- now dominated by conservative justices -- decide to expand their rulings to other areas of the law, as Justice Clarence Thomas suggested in a concurring opinion in the case.
"I really think that it's a serious, serious problem that the court has thrust upon the US, not just in terms of a right to choose, but in terms of right to who you can marry -- an entire range of issues relating to privacy," Biden said.
The US has been embroiled in the Clarence Thomas ruling, a conservative appointee to the SC bench during the Donald Trump era, virtually exacerbating partisan divisions, prompting intense anger among Democrats and other abortion rights supporters, while gratifying the Christian right and satisfying anti-abortion conservatives.