President Donald Trump acknowledged in an interview broadcast Sunday that his choice of successor for Justice Anthony Kennedy could have a profound effect on the legality of abortion across the country. “Maybe some day it will be to the states. You never know how that’s going to turn out. That’s a very complex question,” Trump said in the interview with Fox News. Trump later added that “it could very well end up with the states at some point.”
Asked by host Maria Bartiromo whether he would specifically ask his picks about their view on the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Trump stammered a bit and said he “probably” would not. “Well, that’s a big one. And probably not. They are all saying don’t do that. You don’t do that. You shouldn’t do that,” he said. Trump went on to send what sounded like a wink to his base: “But I’m putting conservative people on.”
Trump has said he plans to announce his choice of justice on July 9 and said he expects the confirmation process to be difficult. “It’s probably going to be vicious because the other side, all they can do is obstruct and resist,” he said. The president also repeated what he had said at a rally earlier in the week, noting he was “honored” that Kennedy decided to retire during his term.
Although he is playing a bit coy now, during the presidential campaign Trump didn’t hide his feelings about how he could remake the country’s abortion laws through Supreme Court appointments. In the third presidential debate in October 2016, Trump said that overturning Roe would be one of the results of appointing new Supreme Court justices as president. “If we put another two or perhaps three justices … that is really what will happen. That will happen automatically in my opinion,” he said.” Because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this. It will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination.”