by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden faces a dilemma in turning the midterm elections into a referendum on abortion: harnessing his base’s anger at the reversal of Robe v. Wade without letting passions get out of control.
That can be seen in the White House’s uneven response to protests against anti-Roe Supreme Court justices. Some fear for the justices’ safety, while others maintain that the protests are an exercise of free speech.
The issue most recently came to a head after angry pro-abortion rights protesters interrupted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh while he was dining at an upmarket Washington, D.C., steakhouse and outgoing Communications Director Kate Bedingfield downplayed the demonstrators’ power over Biden.
While agreeing public officials should never be endangered by protests, many Democrats argue the pro-Roe demonstrators have been overwhelmingly peaceful. But some have been menacing. A California man was arrested on charges of attempted murder outside Kavanaugh’s Maryland home last month after he confessed his plans to police while possessing a pistol, two magazines and ammunition, pepper spray, zip ties, duct tape, a hammer, a screwdriver, a nail punch, and a crowbar.
“Peaceful protests in public spaces are our right as Americans,” Aggressive Progressive podcast host and former Democratic consultant Christopher Hahn said of the restaurant demonstration.
Biden’s reaction to the protesters, who first staged themselves outside Supreme Court justices’ homes after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization majority opinion overruling Roe was leaped to news media in May, has been “understated,” according to Hahn.
“But that’s always been his style,” he said. “It seems forced when he gets angry. They are taking action, and it’s vital that Dems hold the Senate and rightsize the court.”
At the same time, Democrats are hopeful the Supreme Court’s decision will motivate their rank and file to vote in November despite multiple polls suggesting economic issues are their top concern, according to Northeastern University politics professor Costas Panagopoulos.