Talking Points

What a Roe reversal would mean for Trump

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade (1973), it will be a major victory for former President Donald Trump if he chooses to run again in 2024.

Yes, those are two big ifs. But social conservatives have a relationship with Republican presidents and Roe much like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football: They're told to turn out every four years to ensure the scourge of legal abortion can at a minimum be contained, and it never quite happens.

For decades, they've been one Supreme Court vote away from overturning the precedent that bars them from offering meaningful legal protection to the unborn. When Planned Parenthood v. Casey was handed down in 1992, for example, half of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush's appointees voted to defend the core holding of Roe.

So Roe falling would give Trump an accomplishment that eluded Reagan and both Bushes. To most conservatives, especially the serious opponents of abortion among us, that would weigh heavily against other considerations in 2024, including Trump's shameful response to the 2020 results that culminated in tragedy at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Yes, other Republicans, including those previous presidents, would have contributed. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) kept Antonin Scalia's seat open for nearly a year so Trump could fill the vacancy. Still, Trump would have a claim to be the most consequential president ever for conservative constitutionalists and pro-lifers. The promises he made on this issue in 2016 would be vindicated and social conservatives' faith in him richly rewarded. 

That would make the picture for the 2022 midterms and the 2024 general election a lot murkier. Roe's reversal could motivate the conservative base or lead to their complacency. It is certain to inflame abortion rights supporters and seems a good bet to alienate jittery suburbanites who were starting to gravitate back toward Republicans post-Trump.

But for the 2024 Republican primaries, Trump couldn't have a bigger feather in his cap than having put the finishing touches on the 6-3 conservative Supreme Court majority — the majority that finally made the end of Roe thinkable.