Update 7/1/22: After Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Rep. John Yarmuth (D) both confirmed this deal to the Courier Journal, the outlet reported Friday morning that a Kentucky federal judge, Karen Caldwell, is stepping down, opening up a seat for Biden’s potential anti-abortion GOP nominee.
Less than a week after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden is set to nominate anti-abortion Republican lawyer Chad Meredith to a lifetime federal judgeship in Kentucky, reportedly in exchange for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) “agreeing not to hold up future federal nominations by the Biden White House,” according to the Courier Journal.
Meredith, a Federalist Society member, defended a 2017 Kentucky abortion law “requiring doctors who perform abortions to first perform an ultrasound and describe the image to the patient.” Note that the Federalist Society is responsible for basically handpicking Republicans’ Supreme Court nominees and ensuring that they would overturn Roe.
There are no current judicial vacancies open in Kentucky, but the Courier Journal reports that the deal is in place for as soon as one opens.
Democrats have been frustrated by the fact that the administration has been caught flat-footed at the gutting of abortion rights, which we all knew was coming. On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris, during an interview with CNN, dodged questions about whether the administration would pursue allowing legal abortion services on federal lands, like national parks. And on Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre shot down that idea, saying the plan has “dangerous ramifications.”
Biden’s latest, deeply hypocritical move comes after he claimed to be fiercely defending women’s right to abortion now that states have been given the green light to ban it outright.
“This a sad day for the country, in my view, but it doesn’t mean the fight is over,” Biden said in a statement on Friday. “Let me be very clear and unambiguous: The only way we can secure a woman’s right to choose and the balance that existed is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law. No executive action from the President can do that. And if Congress, as it appears, lacks the vote — votes to do that now, voters need to make their voices heard.”
The federal courts are extremely important right now. The Republican Party’s (read: Mitch McConnell’s) entire strategy for the past few years has been to pack them with conservatives who will shut down any lawsuit attempting to defend abortion rights. Biden is under a lot of pressure to fill the current court vacancies he has with judges who are friendly to reproductive rights. And instead, he is making deals with McConnell to allow more anti-abortion judges into the fray.
This is a betrayal. There is no excuse for it. It’s coming at the worst possible time. And if Democrats are going to continue asking people to vote to make up for what we lost on Friday, they are going to need to show us something much different than this.