Momentous Supreme Court rulings on guns, abortion cement Trump’s impact on U.S. policy and culture

News Analysis: Push in 2016 to block Garland nomination, three conservative confirmations since changed composition of court.

Updated: June 24, 2022 - 1:32pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

His electoral future aside, former President Donald Trump’s legacy reshaping America was cemented this week by the U.S. Supreme Court’s momentous rulings on guns and abortion rights.

A solidly conservative high court featuring three of Trump’s picks for justices made clear that rights clearly enshrined in the Constitution, like the 2nd Amendment, can’t be infringed while those, like abortion, for which the Constitution is silent are best left to the states to decide.

The rulings will fundamentally change America as states and communities that have tried to constrict Americans from carrying guns in public must yield, while those states wishing to constrict abortion such states as Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas will be able to do so and those wishing to have expansive access to abortion like California will have a green light too under the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The ignition points for those decisions can be traced to two fateful historical moments involving two men who don’t always see eye to eye: Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to confirm President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016 and Trump’s insistence that his third nominee, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, be confirmed before the 2020 election.

"I think history will show the biggest accomplishment of the Trump administration was putting in a conservative Supreme Court," Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., told Just the News on Friday. "Now we have that and I know there are a lot of people all across America who are rejoicing today.

"You know, when you go back to not confirming Merrick Garland, I think Mitch McConnell deserves a lot of credit for that.

“And then, with respect to making three good appointments to the Supreme Court, certainly, President Trump receives a lot of credit for that. So we were very fortunate, during the four years Trump was president, to be able to have three vacancies on the Supreme Court. And kudos to the Senate for being able to confirm those conservative justices in a in a four-year time period.”

In the end, the three justices appointed by Trump – Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – all voted to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who helped shepherd many of those Supreme Court nominations, said this week’s rulings were victories for pro-life activists’ persistent, 50-year effort to use elections and policies to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision, one he said was based on "weak legal reasoning."

“Regardless of your views on this issue, or any other issue for that matter, we all should respect the role of our impartial judiciary and the decisions that it renders.

"We’re blessed to live in a country where the people play a leading role in how we are governed. The people can advocate for policy priorities in the public square, the halls of Congress and at the ballot box, as so many pro-life Americans have done throughout the past five decades," he said.

Grassley also cautioned against liberals temptation to use violence or court packing to undo the current court.

"We all should respect the role of our impartial judiciary and the decisions that it renders," he said. "Seeking to intimidate or attack the court or undermine its credibility because of an outcome that you don’t support is not the answer.”

Democrats were not as gracious.

President Joe Biden actually challenged the gun rights decision as "unconstitutional" and the abortion ruling as the "realization of extreme ideology."

Menawhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed Friday to reverse the abortion ruling by enshrining Roe v. Wade in federal legislation while accusing the GOP of seeking a nationwide ban.

"It's a slap in the face to women about using their own judgement to make their own decisions about their reproductive freedom," she said, falsely claiming the Supreme Court was "criminalizing" abortion.

"It's all on the ballot in November," the California Democrat also said. 

But even liberals had to concede the rulings were a direct result of the Trump presidency.

Pelosi called the justices the "Trumpian Supreme Court," while the New York Times declared Friday's ruling was "one of the signal legacies of President Donald J. Trump, who vowed to name justices who would overrule Roe."

Trump for his part deferred credit for the ruling Friday on abortion to a higher power.

"God made the decision," he told Fox News shortly after the ruling.

On Thursday, the 9-member, high court's conservative majority struck down New York law restricting concealed carry permits.

The former president, who hasn't decided yet whether he'll run for a second term in 2024, on Friday also declared a truism that many emotional Democrats were obfuscating on Friday: Abortion is not outlawed across America.

"I think, in the end, this is something that will work out for everybody," he said. "This brings everything back to the states where it has always belonged."