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Trump’s lasting legacy grows as Supreme Court overturns Roe

The Supreme Court that Donald Trump helped shape during his time as US president may have delivered him his biggest lasting legacy.

June 27, 2022
By Jill Colvin
27 June 2022

US President Joe Biden rarely mentions his predecessor by name. But as he spoke to a nation processing a seismic shift in the rights of women, he couldn’t ignore Donald Trump’s legacy.

“It was three justices named by one president — Donald Trump — who were the core of today’s decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country,” Biden said on Friday after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority voted to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 law providing constitutional protections for women seeking abortions.

The abortion decision marked the apex in a week that reinforced the former president’s ongoing impact in Washington more than a year and a half after he exited the White House.

Former US President Donald Trump has a huge influence, even from outside the White House. (Reuters/Karen Pulfer Focht/File Photo)

A court that includes three Trump-appointed conservatives also decided to weaken restrictions on gun ownership.

And new details have surfaced of his gross violations of democratic norms on January 6 last year, when thousands of his supporters started a riot at Washington’s Capitol building.

A public hearing last week showed the intense pressure that Trump put on top Justice Department officials to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

The developments were a reminder of the awkward political bargain social conservatives embraced to achieve their grandest ambitions.

A mob of supporters of US President Donald Trump storm the Capitol Building in Washington on January 6, 2021. (Reuters/Leah Millis)

During the 2016 election campaign, reluctant conservative Republicans and evangelical Christians rallied behind Trump, a thrice-married man who had previously described himself as “very pro-choice.”

“When he ran in 2016, he promised that he would appoint conservative and pro-life judges to the federal courts starting with the US Supreme Court. And he kept his word,” said Ralph Reed, an evangelical leader and chair of the The Faith and Freedom Coalition.

“Those in the faith community that felt it was worth taking a chance on Donald Trump in 2016 have been vindicated.”

The Republicans are now at something of a turning point in its relationship with a man who has fundamentally transformed the party with his populist “Make America Great Again” agenda.

Evangelical Christian and Trump supporter Ralph Reed says he has been vindicated for his support. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

There’s a growing debate within the party about whether Trump’s resonance is beginning to fade as lays the groundwork for a third presidential run in 2024.

Other leading Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, are taking increasingly bold steps toward White House bids of their own.

And many of Trump’s own supporters are eagerly embracing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as Trump’s natural successor as they look to the future.

Pence, Pompeo and DeSantis are among those who have made clear that a Trump candidacy would not influence their own decisions about whether to run. If they do run, they will all be competing for support from the same conservatives who fueled Trump’s rise.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is seen within the Republican Party as Trump’s natural successor. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

Trump himself seems somewhat uncertain about how to navigate the political fallout from the past week, particularly the abortion ruling.

He has privately expressed concern to aides that the decision could energise Democrats going into the November elections, The New York Times first reported.

Indeed, in a Fox News interview after the abortion opinion was released, Trump said that, “in the end, this is something that will work out for everybody.”

Asked about his own role in the eventual decision, Trump responded that, “God made the decision.”

Conservative justices who were appointed onto the US Supreme Court by Trump helped make the decision to overturn Roe vs Wade. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Trump grew more emboldened as Friday unfolded, raising money off the decision and issuing a statement in which he took full credit for what he called “the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation.”

He said that it and “other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. It was my great honor to do so!”

At a Saturday night rally, Trump took another victory lap to cheers from the crowd.

“Yesterday the court handed down a victory for the Constitution, a victory for the rule of law, and above all, a victory for life,” he told supporters, who broke into a chant of “Thank you Trump!.”

Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence has been making moves for a possible presidential bid. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign and White House adviser, agued the decision would be beneficial to Trump’s future political prospects, helping to cement his standing with conservative voters if he runs again.

“President Trump has been accepting his share of the credit for the Trump Court’s decision, as he should,” Caputo said.

“This is yet another confirmation of his transformational presidency.”

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