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Politics chat: Supreme Court rulings limit executive action on climate and abortion

SHANNON BOND, HOST:

It has been an extraordinary last few days in politics. Before leaving the NATO summit, President Joe Biden said this in response to one monumental Supreme Court decision.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law, and the way to do that is to make sure that Congress votes to do that. And if the filibuster gets in the way, it's like voting rights. It should be, we provide an exception for this.

BOND: Biden arrived back in Washington to news of another Supreme Court decision, one with big implications for how government works. Here to talk about all of this is NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Good morning, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning.

BOND: So walk us through the political landscape President Biden now faces as a result of these rulings on abortion and the EPA.

LIASSON: Well, one piece of news, as you just heard, is that he has decided to relax his protectiveness of the filibuster even further. He supports a constitutional carve-out for bills codifying abortion rights, as he did for the bill codifying voting rights. The problem is that the Democrats don't have the 51 votes they need to make that change in the rules around the filibuster. So on Friday, the president met with Democratic governors, looking for ways that they and he could help women, like making sure a woman's right to travel isn't curtailed if they seek an abortion across state lines. Now, as far as that EPA ruling, that is potentially much more consequential and significant. Conservatives have long had a project of what they call dismantling the administrative state, that is making it harder for the federal government to regulate just about anything. In this case, it was about the oil and gas industry.

But now that the federal government cannot regulate greenhouse gases from power plants, it's going to be much harder for Joe Biden to meet his net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 goal. This is hugely consequential for the planet, but much harder for people to understand because it doesn't have the kind of day-to-day immediate consequences that the Roe ruling does. But I think all in all, what these court decisions signal is an activist insurgent (ph). Democrats would call it a radically conservative court. And this is the reason that so many conservatives held their noses and voted for Trump. Trump has now delivered a durable supermajority of conservatives on the court that will serve for decades.

BOND: So is this going to unite Democrats or cause further divisions with the midterms looming?

LIASSON: Well, of course it will cause further divisions because they're Democrats. But in addition to the circular firing squad, with Democrats criticizing Biden for not doing enough, I think Democrats are hopeful that these decisions will energize Democratic voters and motivate them to come out to the polls in November in greater numbers.

BOND: Mara, Representative Liz Cheney gave a pretty remarkable speech a few days ago at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Let's listen to a clip.

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LIZ CHENEY: We're confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before, and that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic.

BOND: So how did that speech land?

LIASSON: Well, as you said, she delivered it at the Reagan Presidential Library - kind of important place for conservatism. But she went on to say that Trump was aided by Republican leaders and elected officials who've made themselves willing hostages to a dangerous and irrational man. I think the political implications for Cheney herself - she is not expected to win her primary. Of course, Wyoming is a deep red MAGA land. But even if she does lose her job, I think she has secured her place in history as the co-chairman of the January 6 commission. As Cheney has said over and over again, she has not changed her views on any conservative policies. But her fidelity to the Constitution and the peaceful transfer of power and the rule of law outweighs all of that.

BOND: Yeah. And that January 6 committee is trying to move the needle on this. So did this last hearing with White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson do that, and where are things headed next?

LIASSON: I don't know if it's going to move voters, but what we do know is that the committee next wants to talk to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. They've issued him a subpoena. He is the White House counsel who warned staffers about allowing Trump to join his supporters at the Capitol. He is reported to have told them that if they did that, they'd be violating a lot of laws.

BOND: That's NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thanks, Mara.

LIASSON: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF RYAN DUGRE'S "MUTE SWAN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.