VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Sen. Tim Kaine said the future of Roe v. Wade is "very much in jeopardy" during a campaign event on Monday morning in Town Center.
Speculation is growing as to whether the landmark ruling will be overturned when President Trump makes his pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Kennedy announced his decision to retire at the end of July, setting up a fight to fill his seat. Kennedy often sided with more liberal justices on issues like abortion and gay rights. His departure likely gives the court a conservative majority.
"To allow states to be able to go back to criminalizing women's freedom to make their own healthcare decisions, I think would be devastating," Kaine said. The 1973 ruling legalized abortion across America.
Over the weekend, President Trump told Fox News he would "probably not" ask his nominee about how they would vote on the abortion law. During the 2016 campaign, he predicted the law would be overturned during his presidency. "If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that's really what's going to be, that's what will happen automatically, because I am putting pro-life justices on court," he said during one of the debates.
Some religious groups and pro-life advocates are hoping the new justice will lead to the law's overturn. "We are excited about the opportunity of putting justices on the court who are going to look at the original intent of the constitution and rule in that manner," said Carol Trobias of the National Right to Life Committee.
Kaine said those groups are well within their rights to stake out their strongly held beliefs against abortion, but said the law is a separate argument. "These are important moral questions, but you don't take a moral position and then use the criminal law to impose it on people who believe differently," Kaine said.
His republican opponent, Corey Stewart, has called on the president to nominate someone who will "move the court further in a conservative direction that respects the Constitution and our freedoms."