But the episode underscores Democrats’ passionate response in the wake of the Supreme Court’s strike Roe v. Wade† Sometimes the Democrats have directed some of their anger at the White House.
On June 23, White House official Kate Marshall emailed Coulter Minix, the director of Andy Beshear’s office of Kentucky Gov. in Washington. “To be nominated tomorrow,” the report read, followed by the qualifications and experience of Meredith, who the Biden administration planned to nominate as a judge in the Eastern District of Kentucky the following day.
The email, released Wednesday, was titled “close hold,” meaning information should not be widely distributed. Minix said he would “share the info and appreciate the heads up.”
The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade the next day, shaking the country and fueling demands that Democratic elected leaders do everything they can to protect access to abortions. An email that followed a few days later contained what appeared to be an attempt to contain potential fallout†
“Sorry I didn’t include this in the original email,” wrote Marshall, a former Nevada lieutenant governor who joined the White House’s Bureau of Intergovernmental Affairs in August. “But I wanted to make it clear that the email I sent was pre-decision and privileged information. Let me know if you have any questions. Thank you. Kate.”
The governor’s office initially told news outlets that the exchange between Marshall and Minix was conditional and could not be released. It was finally obtained Wednesday by The Washington Post and other news organizations after a request for public records. The office of Democrat Beshear declined to comment on Wednesday, referring reporters to statements he made at a news conference.
The revelations have sparked criticism of a president who vowed to do everything he could to protect abortion rights — and urged outraged voters to vent their anger by voting for fellow Democrats in the midterm elections.
They have also heightened tensions between the White House and Democratic elected officials in Kentucky, including Rep. John Yarmuth and Beshear, who confirmed and criticized the government’s intent to nominate Meredith.
“If the president makes that nomination, it will be indefensible,” Beshear said at a news conference on Thursday. He pointed to Meredith’s role in a series of controversial pardons at the end of Republican Matt Bevin’s governorship, including of a man convicted of raping a child. Beshear called Meredith “a person who helped and advised on the most blatant abuse of power by a governor in my life.”
Yarmuth released a recent statement accusing Biden and Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of making a previous deal on Meredith.
“Given that there is currently no judicial position in the Eastern District Court, it is clear that this is part of a larger deal over judicial appointments between the president and Mitch McConnell,” Yarmuth said in a statement. “I strongly oppose this deal and Meredith being nominated for the position. The last thing we need is another extremist on the bench.”
Scott Sloofman, a spokesman for McConnell, denied there was any such arrangement. “Discussions over Judge Caldwell’s seat only concern who should fill Judge Caldwell’s seat,” Sloofman said in a statement, referring to the vacancy that was eventually made public.
Both the White House and the Kentucky governor’s office have declined to comment on the talks and decisions involving Meredith.
The new details add to the accusations the White House has received since the Supreme Court denied the constitutional right to abortion in roe† Many abortion rights advocates have said Biden’s response to the ruling was insufficient, raising concerns over his handling of other issues and widening rifts in a political party facing strong headwinds in the run-up to November’s election.
The White House has tried to avoid questions about what Biden, if any, wanted Meredith to serve on the federal bench. When asked about it on Air Force One on Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined.
“So we do – we – we make it a point here not to comment on any – on any vacancy, be it in the executive or the judiciary, especially those who don’t have – don’t have – the nomination hasn’t been made yet,” she told reporters. “So I have nothing to say about that. It’s something we just don’t comment on.”
She also declined to say whether the government has a rule against appointing judges who oppose abortion.
Critics have gone after the White House for not having a better plan to protect reproductive rights — or other privacy rights that could be compromised by the decision — especially since a draft advisory leaked weeks before the official ruling.
A consortium of abortion rights groups expressed anger at the government, pointing out that the appointment of conservative judges to the federal bench had paved the way for Roe v. Wade be overthrown.
“We are in a national abortion crisis,” said a statement from groups including NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We are at this point as anti-abortion judges have been deliberately appointed at every level to take away our fundamental right to abortion – and given his track record, we know Chad Meredith would be no exception.”
The White House said it has held meetings with stakeholders to formulate a plan to fight the results of the Supreme Court ruling. Among other measures, the government said it would try to protect access to mifepristone, an abortion pill that can be prescribed via a telehealth visit and delivered by mail, circumventing a number of state restrictions. Biden said he would also protect women who travel across state lines to have abortions.
During five decades in political office, Biden has been openly conflicted over abortion, at times struggling to reconcile the views formed by his Catholic faith with those of his political party.
He has supported abortion rights for most of his career but resisted federal funding for the procedure, including in some cases pregnancies due to rape and incest. And he was one of the few Democrats in 1982 to vote for a constitutional amendment that would have bypassed states Roe v. Wade and limit abortion.
After Roe v. Wade was quashed, he said the rights withdrawn by the court were endangering other freedoms, and tried to turn the fight for reproductive rights into a medium-term campaign issue.
“This fall, we need to elect more senators and representatives who will re-codify women’s right to choose into federal law, elect more state leaders to protect this right at the local level,” he said from the White House two hours after the Supreme Court. Council. Court decision. “We need to protect roe as the law of the land. We must choose officials who will do that. this fall, roe is on the ballot. Personal liberties are on the agenda. The right to privacy, liberty, equality, they are all on the ballot.”