Trump's call for states to handle abortion isn't stopping ideological clashes on the right

Plus, how Democrats in one of the most important Electoral College states in the country are trying to make it easier to vote in November's election.

Top Headlines

In the wake of the Arizona Supreme Court decision that could implement one the stricter abortion bans in the country, former President Donald Trump is trying to walk the line between the unpopularity of such bans and the anti-abortion support that is key to his coalition. 

“States will determine by vote or legislation, or perhaps both,” Trump said in a video posted to his Truth Social account “Whatever they decide must be the law of the land, or in this case the law of the state.”

“Many states will be different, many will have a different number of weeks, some will be more conservative than others,” he added. “At the end of the day, this is all about the will of the people. You must follow your heart, or in many cases, your religion or faith.”

Trump’s comments were echoed by the likes of Kari Lake, a MAGA Republican running for Arizona’s Senate seat, and other GOP members within the state. 

“This is an earthquake that has never been seen in Arizona politics,” Barrett Marson, a Republican consultant in Arizona, told The Guardian. “This will shake the ground under every Republican candidate, even those in safe legislative or congressional seats.”

Despite such comments, Arizona Republicans have since blocked attempts to appeal the abortion ban. 

But Trump and conservatives anxious about alienating more moderate voters with extreme abortion politics have, in turn, upset key constituencies within their base — particularly those committed to implementing a federal abortion ban in the event of a second Trump term. 

“President Trump says that abortion should come down to the ‘will of the people,’” Lila Rose, founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action, said in a recent interview with Politico. “It is not right for democratic societies to vote on the fundamental rights of unpopular minorities. There is no more unpopular minority today than preborn Americans. Abortion is not about the ‘will of the people,’ it’s about respecting the human right that we are endowed with by our creator.”

Anti-abortion advocates are especially upset at the idea that Republican leadership would suggest that constitutional referendums at the state level are a legitimate method of litigating the issue. Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, ballot measures enshrining abortion as a right have proven successful in Vermont, Michigan, California and Ohio. 

Meanwhile, voters in conservative states like Montana, Kansas and Kentucky have rejected efforts to penalize those who receive abortions and other anti-abortion laws that would significantly limit access to the procedure. 

Given the efficacy of such ballot measures, those committed to the anti-abortion are now demanding such deliberations be taken out of the hands of voters.

“People can engage their legislators — that is called the democratic process. That’s why we have this whole checks-and-balances system,” an anti-abortion activist in Arizona explained to Politico. 

“But when you put something so radical and so extreme in the Constitution, to get that overturned is practically impossible.”

Election Watch

As the 2024 election comes into view, the nature of voting in Wisconsin — one of the most crucial arenas in the presidential race — remains limited. In 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court placed restrictions on the number of mail-in ballot locations. But last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) requested that the state’s highest court, which now has a narrow liberal majority, overturn the ruling. 

Last month, the court agreed to review the decision after voting rights groups within Wisconsin, as well as a national organization, brought forward a suit against the Wisconsin Elections Committee. 

Oral arguments have been set for May 13.

“All across our country, election officials have chosen to use drop boxes to ensure that all eligible voters can freely cast their ballots,” Evers said in a statement. “Drop box voting is safe and secure, and there is nothing in Wisconsin’s election laws that prohibit our local clerks from using this secure option.”

Such legal interventions have been condemned by Republicans in the state. For example, in a recent interview, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) claimed that attempts to allow mail-in voting are a plot to allow undocumented Americans to access the ballot.

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Jamie Larson