Donald Trump on Thursday responded to a landmark Supreme Court ruling earlier this week on abortion, telling radio host Mike Gallagher that if Trump had been president, the court would have reached a different decision.
“Now if we had—Scalia was living, or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that, OK? It would’ve been the opposite,” Trump said of the ruling, which struck down a restrictive Texas abortion law.
The death in February of Justice Antonin Scalia left the high court with only eight justices, leaving open the possibility of a tied decision.
The remaining justices issued three rulings this spring that were deadlocked, 4-4. But the abortion decision Trump was talking about wasn’t one of them.
The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, was decided in a 5-3 vote, with Justice Anthony Kennedy siding with the court’s more liberal justices. The Texas law being challenged in the case would have closed most of the abortion clinics in the state. By ruling the Texas law unconstitutional, the fives justices delivered a victory to the abortion rights movement.
A spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign declined to clarify his remarks to the Huffington Post.
Trump’s record on abortion is complicated, and he has claimed to be against abortion and for abortion rights at different times in his life. Earlier this year, Trump angered people on both sides of the debate when he said that the procedure should be banned, and women who seek out banned abortions should be punished.
Trump and his campaign quickly backtracked on the punishment angle, but the comment revealed how little Trump understood about the goals and values of the anti-abortion movement. Judging from his response to the latest ruling, Trump does not appear to have learned much since March.
Either way, Trump’s answers on Thursday are unlikely to please anti-abortion conservatives, who are still angry that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee did not respond to the Supreme Court decision more quickly.
Within hours after the ruling was handed down Monday, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton responded with a dig at Trump and his “punishment” comments.
This fight isn't over: The next president has to protect women's health. Women won't be "punished" for exercising their basic rights. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 27, 2016
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
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