Against the backdrop of the 6-3 conservative U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments in cases that could well mean the overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing abortion rights for all Americans, Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly are back in 2022 with an assortment of anti-abortion bills. Former House Minority Leader Patrick Neville has reintroduced his perennial bill making abortion a class 1 felony, and as we discussed yesterday, CD-8 candidate and Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer signed on as the Senate sponsor of a reprise “abortion surveillance” bill similar to one that died in the 2021 session.
But folks, none of those bills can hold a proverbial candle to House Bill 22-1079, sponsored by two upwardly aspiring GOP House members, Rep. Dave Williams running in CD-5 and Rep. Ron Hanks in the race for the GOP nomination to take on incumbent U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. House Bill 1079, “Concerning Abolishing Abortion in Colorado,” takes the fight to ban abortion “from fertilization to natural death” to a disturbing new level:
The bill requires the state to enforce homicide and assault provisions without regard to the opinion of the United States supreme court in Roe v. Wade and other supreme court decisions, past and future.
The bill authorizes the state to disregard any federal court decision that purports to enjoin or void this requirement and subjects a Colorado judge to impeachment or removal [Pols emphasis] if the judge purports to enjoin, stay, overrule, or void the requirement.
In short, what we have here is an assertion of state sovereignty over federal law, following the anachronistic idea that states can simply nullify laws they don’t like. It’s an argument that was mostly settled by the American Civil War, and again in the 1958 Supreme Court case of Cooper v. Aaron–only much more recently becoming a renewed legal debate topic as right-wing controlled legislatures have attempted bills like the one above.
This bill will of course not live through its first committee hearing in the Democratic-controlled Colorado House, let alone pass into law where it would be subjected to a court challenge. But when you consider that this legislation instructing the state to defy the U.S. Supreme Court is sponsored by two Colorado Republican candidates for federal office, it’s more than a little concerning. It’s another stark reminder how the abortion rights Coloradans were assured for years would never be in danger no matter how many Republicans got elected are in grave danger today.
And it shows again how abortion, an issue that has ruined Colorado Republican candidates and galvanized Colorado voters to turn out to protect abortion rights over and over in general elections, is perceived completely differently in the context of a Republican primary. Williams and Hanks don’t consider this issue to be a liability–in fact their chances in the primaries they’re running in improve the more extreme a position they take, and they’re simply not strategizing beyond that date. In a Republican primary, anti-abortion extremism is the coin of the realm, and that’s why Neville’s bill merely making an abortion a felony wasn’t enough this year.
Like Maya Angelou said, when they show you this clearly what they stand for, believe them.