WASHINGTON — In the end, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whose political rise over decades has been intertwined with the fight to maintain legal abortion, turned to poetry.
Facing reporters less than an hour after the Supreme Court ruled that Roe v. Wade was no more, Pelosi quoted a written statement that she had ready for this day, saying the decision underscored the need to keep Democratic control of Congress. She touted a gun bill that was going to become law.
But then she paused and returned to the abortion ruling, saying quietly, “I am personally overwhelmed by this decision” and proceeded to quote lyrics to a song she said she sometimes reads.
“I have no other country/Even though my land is burning,” the song by Israeli lyricist and translator Ehud Manor begins. “Here is my home/I shall not be silent/For my country has changed her face,” Pelosi read, stopping to repeat the phrase “my country has changed her face.”
“I shall not give up on her/I shall remind her/and sing into her ears until she opens her eyes,” Pelosi said.
“Clearly, we hope that the Supreme Court would open its eyes.”
The moment — an uncommonly emotional one for the usually reserved Pelosi — summed up her initial reaction: an apparent combination of anger, frustration and determination to press on, even as the odds seem overwhelmingly long.
She reserved a good deal of ire for former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the architects of the current Supreme Court lineup that formally handed down the decision today that Washington had been expecting for weeks. She called out McConnell for not allowing Barack Obama to name a successor to Antonin Scalia and then rushing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Trump weeks before an election.
“The inconsistency, the hypocrisy — I don’t respect that process, OK?” she said.
She then took aim at the justices who voted for the decision, especially the ones who, during their nomination processes, said they would respect “stare decisis,” the idea that precedents should be respected and only changed with care.
“How about those justices, coming before the senators and saying they respected ‘stare decisis,’ the precedent of the court? That they respected the right of privacy in the Constitution of the United States?” she asked.
“Did you hear that? Were they not telling the truth then?”
Pelosi noted the House had already passed legislation to put into law the right to abortion — an effort stalled in the Senate — and said Democrats need to maintain control of Congress and elect two more Democrats in the Senate to allow it to scrap the filibuster.
“A woman’s right to choose, reproductive freedom, is on the ballot in November,” she said.
Success, she said, depended on people knowing what was going on and becoming energized, like in 2017 immediately after Trump was sworn in, resulting in Democrats taking the House in 2018.
“We have to have something commensurate with that,” she said.
“It is clear that we just have to win a majority in November. Everything is at stake.”
More on the Supreme Court abortion ruling:
- Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, dismantling decades-old precedent
- Roe overturned: The fight begins
- Abortion is now illegal in these states
- Liberal justices dissent with “sorrow” for “millions of American women”
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “We have to fill the streets”
- Clarence Thomas: Cases protecting gay marriage and contraception should be next
- Republicans make it clear they want to ban abortion nationwide
- Donald Trump praises SCOTUS decision
- West Coast states launch a plan to protect out-of-state abortion patients
- Here’s how the world is reacting to the end of Roe