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Evangelical Leaders Careful on Roe v. Wade Reversal

The Supreme Court vacancy could doom the landmark abortion case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 30, 2018 3:00 PM CDT
In this May 13, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump, right, gives a thumbs up as Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., left, watches during commencement ceremonies at the school in Lynchburg,...   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(Newser) – For evangelical Christian leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr., this is their political holy grail. Like many religious conservatives in a position to know, the Liberty University president with close ties to the White House suspects that the Supreme Court vacancy President Donald Trump fills in the coming months will ultimately lead to the reversal of the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade. But instead of celebrating publicly, some evangelical leaders are downplaying their fortune on an issue that has defined their movement for decades. "What people don't understand is that if you overturn Roe v. Wade, all that does is give the states the right to decide whether abortion is legal or illegal," Falwell told the AP in an interview. "My guess is that there'd probably be less than 20 states that would make abortion illegal if given that right."

Falwell added: "In the '70s, I don't know how many states had abortion illegal before Roe v. Wade, but it won't be near as many this time." The sentiment, echoed by evangelical leaders across the country this past week, underscores the delicate politics that surround a moment many religious conservatives have longed for. With the retirement of swing vote Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Trump and his Republican allies in the Senate plan to install a conservative justice who could re-define the law of the land on some of the nation's most explosive policy debates—none bigger than abortion. But social conservatives risk a powerful backlash from their opponents if they cheer too loudly. Two-thirds of Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, according to a poll released Friday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. For the full story, click here.

(Read more Jerry Falwell stories.)

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