Roe v. Wade Overturned, Kentucky's Trigger Law, Jan 6. Hearings : Up First The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday officially overturned Roe v. Wade, voting along ideological lines. What does it say about the court as an institution and where it's headed? In some states with so-called "trigger laws," abortion was banned immediately — we bring you the view from one of them. And — the latest on the January 6th hearings.

Roe v. Wade Overturned, Kentucky's Trigger Law, Jan 6. Hearings

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SUSAN DAVIS, HOST:

Yesterday, the Supreme Court transformed American life by overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade.

ELISSA NADWORNY, HOST:

What does the move say about the court as an institution, as well as where it's headed?

DAVIS: I'm Susan Davis.

NADWORNY: I'm Elissa Nadworny. And this is UP FIRST from NPR News.

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DAVIS: Across the country, some Americans celebrated the decision while others mourned.

NADWORNY: Here's President Biden.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It's a sad day for the court and for the country.

NADWORNY: In some states, laws banning abortion were triggered immediately. We'll bring you the view from the ground in one of them.

DAVIS: And the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection wrapped its last hearing of the month. We'll look at the latest evidence presented and what's next with the hearings.

NADWORNY: Stay with us. We've got the news you need to start your weekend.

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DAVIS: The U.S. Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade yesterday, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion upheld for nearly half a century no longer exists.

NADWORNY: Writing for the court's conservative majority, Justice Samuel Alito said that the 1973 ruling and repeated subsequent high court decisions reaffirming Roe must be overruled because they were, quote, "egregiously wrong and not grounded in the Constitution."

DAVIS: Joining us now to discuss how all of this is playing out is NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Hey, Nina.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Hey there, Sue.

DAVIS: So this is yet another decision by the court along ideological lines. What does that split say about the court as an institution?

TOTENBERG: Well, it came a day after the court, in a sweeping decision, declared for the first time that there is a constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense. And the decision casts real doubt on a huge array of gun laws, potentially even some of the ones just passed and the big compromise bill in the House and Senate. Normally at this time, the justices would be exchanging their opinions and working with each other to resolve differences and reach some sort of consensus. But this is a court that's really riven with distrust, especially after the leak in May. And for the first time in the modern court era, there is no center. The court is the most conservative of any court in 75 years at least, and it's using the whip hand, it seems, to push a pretty conservative - I would actually say very conservative - agenda, and the result isn't great for the court as an institution. The Gallup poll just released shows that the court's approval ratings have plummeted to a historic low at 25%.

DAVIS: You brought up the guns opinion from Thursday. In that case, the court struck down a New York law that limited people's ability to carry guns in public. So it took power from the states, but in this decision, they gave power to the states. Is there a legal contradiction there?

TOTENBERG: Well, supporters of abortion rights certainly think so. I spoke to Melissa Murray, professor at NYU, and here's what she said.

MELISSA MURRAY: This is a court that is talking out of both sides of its mouth. You know, guns allegedly have more rights than pregnant women do under this court's logic.

TOTENBERG: Of course, conservatives would argue that the two things are different because there's no explicitly stated right to an abortion in the Constitution, and there is the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

DAVIS: Nina, you covered the original Roe decision back in 1973. What strikes you as different about this time?

TOTENBERG: They were very different times, and there were lots of conservatives who were supporters of abortion rights, like Barry Goldwater, for instance. It's also worth noting that the original decision was 7-to-2, and the court was even then mainly Republican appointees. They were just a different kind of Republican appointees. Even though they were conservatives, it was a much more centrist conservatism, and that was slowly eroded. Today we have a court with three Trump appointees and no Justice Merrick Garland, who would have been easily confirmed, but for the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked any consideration of his nomination. And of course, those are hardball tactics but much more the norm now in the Senate, the House, and it appears even on the court.

DAVIS: But, Nina, it's not like courts haven't taken unpopular positions before, even positions against the majority of the will of the public.

TOTENBERG: It certainly has. Any court can take a hit. You know, the country was furious in 1962, when a liberal court majority banished prayers in public schools. But this court is much more on a tear. It's reaching out for cases that it doesn't have to take yet. We have affirmative action next year. We have a case that the court reached out to accept about whether a business can turn away gay clients. And there's more, lots more. It's going to be another Rock 'Em Sock 'Em term. And I think it's going to be that way for a long time.

DAVIS: That's NPR's Nina Totenberg. Thanks, Nina.

TOTENBERG: You're welcome.

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NADWORNY: Following yesterday's Supreme Court decision, at least 11 states across the U.S. have either banned or partially banned access to abortion. Others are expected to follow suit.

DAVIS: And now that there is no constitutional right to abortion, access depends on where you live.

NADWORNY: In Kentucky, almost all abortions are now banned. Here's Kentucky's attorney general, Daniel Cameron.

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DANIEL CAMERON: Abortion is, for all intents and purposes, over here in the Commonwealth with the exception of life. There is no rape and incest exception.

DAVIS: NPR's Leila Fadel joins us now from Louisville, where she's outside one of the only two clinics that provided abortion care up until Friday morning in Kentucky. And a warning that we discuss sexual assault in this piece, so it might not be appropriate for all listeners. Good morning, Leila.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Good morning, Sue.

DAVIS: So describe where you are right now, and what is the scene like?

FADEL: I'm outside the EMW Surgical Center. It's the only independent abortion care clinic in Kentucky. We watched a man get out of his truck this morning. A couple more people arriving now, putting out signs - abortion is murder, thou shalt not kill. And when we got off the plane and drove downtown yesterday, we came right here to talk to health care providers to see who was outside. When I tried to open the door, it was already locked. The clinic is closed, no longer providing abortion care, at least for now, as they figure things out legally. The sidewalk outside is typically crowded with anti-abortion protesters trying to stop patients from entering and escorts who help patients try to enter the clinic safely, and it's largely empty.

DAVIS: So it sounds like this place has really been a battlefield for people who both supported and opposed abortion rights.

FADEL: Yeah. Right next to EMW is another clinic called BsideU for Life, and it actually shares a wall with EMW. The sign makes it look like a place to get pregnancy care and abortion counseling. But the goal of that clinic is to convince women not to get abortions, not to go inside EMW. Or maybe I should say was because now abortions in almost all cases, as you said, are illegal, and those who provide that care would be committing a crime.

DAVIS: So what are the people you've spoken to saying about this decision?

FADEL: On one side, I heard celebration, a sense of victory over a decades-long battle finally won. And later today, there will be a festival to celebrate Kentucky's ban on abortion with games, a petting zoo and bounce houses. As new polling shows, the majority of this country believes abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but not here. Here, the majority of people - 57% - support a ban on abortion, according to a Pew poll.

And then on the other side, there's rage. There was a protest just a few blocks from here last night with hundreds of people holding signs demanding the separation of church and state, questioning the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and promising to fight it.

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FADEL: So you can hear them saying pro-life is a lie. You don't care if people die. And one of the protesters I met was Stephanie Aybare. She was sitting, breastfeeding her 8-month-old baby, and this is what she said.

STEPHANIE AYBARE: I'm scared for all of the women in my life, scared for all of the teenagers, all the girls who, like, are now able to have babies. I'm scared for everybody. I'm just angry.

FADEL: She said she's worried that access to birth control is next. And right next to her, a 63-year-old woman asked me to turn off my recorder. The story she wanted to share was too sensitive. She said nearly 50 years ago, when Roe v. Wade first became law, she was 13. She'd been repeatedly raped by a man who found her at a bus stop, and she felt powerless. She had no money, no family support, no ability to care for a baby, and she didn't want to have the child of the man who violated her. So she got herself to downtown Louisville and got an abortion. She says today, she feels like that powerless teen again. And she's thinking of all the 13-year-old girls who might be out there with a similar story but, she says, today, they would be forced to continue the pregnancy.

DAVIS: NPR's Leila Fadel reporting from Kentucky. Thank you.

FADEL: Thank you.

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NADWORNY: The House's January 6 committee ended its series of hearings this month with a bombshell. Half a dozen Republican members of Congress who helped Donald Trump try to overturn the results of the 2020 election also sought pardons from him.

DAVIS: Those lawmakers were named through committee interviews with former Trump White House aides. Here's Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows.

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CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Mr. Gaetz is personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December. Mr. Biggs and Mr. Gohmert asked one as well.

NADWORNY: The revelation sparks new questions for those lawmakers and about the panel's next steps. Joining us now is NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales.

Hey, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hey there.

NADWORNY: So tell us more about these members of Congress and how they're responding to this new evidence.

GRISALES: Right. As we heard there, they included GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida, who was named several times in testimony. Gaetz, for his part, didn't deny the claims, but took the opportunity to attack the panel as a political sideshow. Other members who these former Trump aide said asked for pardons were Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. So far, several of these Republicans have denied they did anything wrong. And in Greene's case, the testimony about her asking for a pardon was secondhand. And one member, Brooks, said he'll testify before the committee now, but only under certain conditions.

NADWORNY: So the panel has now wrapped up five hearings where they've been presenting the case that Trump and his allies sought to fraudulently overturn the 2020 presidential election. What's next?

GRISALES: The House is largely away for the next couple of weeks, so the panel will hit the pause button now on these hearings and resume after they return from the 4th of July recess. Committee chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters after Thursday's hearing there's at least two more. One is focused on how Trump ignited the violent January 6 mob and another on how then President Trump was not responsive to the attack for 187 minutes on that day.

So at least two hearings are planned, maybe more. And the panel is negotiating whether Ginni Thomas - this is the wife to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas - will testify perhaps behind closed doors to the panel next month. And the panel is also sifting through months of video from a documentary filmmaker who spent time with the Trump family before the 2020 election and deciding whether it will share any new evidence from there in its future findings.

NADWORNY: This is also happening while there's been something of a clash between the committee and the Department of Justice over their parallel investigations. Where does that stand?

GRISALES: Right. The Justice Department has said they've had to delay a trial involving several members tied to the extremist Proud Boys group because of the panel's probe. The Justice Department also wants access to the panel's findings, and members tell us they could start turning over those documents as early as July. And we've heard this committee implore the agency to do more in its criminal probe of January 6. And we saw that investigation ramp up this week with a raid at the home of a former Trump Justice Department official and a new wave of subpoenas.

NADWORNY: NPR's Claudia Grisales.

Thank you.

GRISALES: Thank you much.

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DAVIS: And that's UP FIRST for Saturday, June 25, 2022. This weekend version of the podcast has been produced by Andrew Craig, Danny Hensel and Ian Stewart.

NADWORNY: Our editors are D. Parvaz and Venna Koenig.

DAVIS: Directing our podcast, Isabella Gomez Sarmiento and Michael Radcliffe.

NADWORNY: Our technical director is Alex Drewenskus.

DAVIS: Evie Stone is our supervising editor. Sarah Oliver is our executive producer.

NADWORNY: And Jim Kane is our deputy managing editor, with an assist from Steve Drummond.

DAVIS: I'm Susan Davis.

NADWORNY: And I'm Elissa Nadworny. Tomorrow on UP FIRST, we look at abortion on a personal level by talking to two women whose feelings about it are complicated and have changed through their own experiences of abortion and adoption. Follow us on social media. We're @UpFirst on Twitter.

DAVIS: And for more news and interviews, books and music, you can find us on the radio.

NADWORNY: It's a show called Weekend Edition, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Find your NPR station at stations.npr.org.

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