With news of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s imminent retirement, a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found that the majority of voters want the next justice to support abortion rights.

Out of the 1,990 registered voters polled, 52% said they hope the new justice supports a woman’s right to an abortion. Meanwhile, 29% said they hope the new justice opposes abortion rights and the remaining 19% don’t know or have no opinion.

With Justice Kennedy previously acting as a swing vote on past abortion cases, the appointment of a “pro-life” judge could spell serious trouble for the future of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that established the right to an abortion. While not completely consistent in his stance on abortion, Kennedy had previously helped protect the ruling in certain decisions, reinforcing the idea that abortion was a protected liberty. In 2016, Kennedy joined an opinion that supported abortion rights, concluding that abortion is generally safe and requiring states to show that any restrictions helped women in fact, not theory.



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Many worry that President Donald Trump’s pick could now swing the vote against Roe vs. Wade, despite popular opinion. The president himself promised he “will be appointing pro-life judges” in a 2016 debate on NBC News. He has since contradicted himself in a recent interview with Fox Business, claiming he would “probably not” question contenders as to their opinion on the landmark case during the selection process.

Many speculate that with a Republican-majority Senate, the prospects of Trump’s pick being confirmed seem high. But, POLITICO/Morning Consult’s recent findings could signify a change-up amongst Senate voters. With midterm elections coming up this November, senators may think twice about confirming someone whose abortion stance contradicts that of their base, if they hope to be reelected. 

“Our polling suggests the open Supreme Court justice seat could have major repercussions on 2018 Senate races,” observed Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s managing director. “More than three-quarters [76 percent] of voters say their senator’s position on the … nominee will be a very or somewhat important factor at the ballot box, including 82 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Republicans, and 68 percent of independents.”

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