Former President Obama on Saturday said that the makeup of the Supreme Court would be very different if Democrats had held onto the Senate in the 2014 midterms, laying out the importance of this midterm cycle, particularly on the future of reproductive rights.
“If we had kept the Senate in 2014, we’d have a very different Supreme Court making decisions about our most basic rights. So, midterms are no joke,” Obama said at a Democratic rally at Temple University in Philadelphia.
The 2014 midterms were held during Obama’s second term and Republicans flipped the Senate and retained control of the House.
Obama in 2016 nominated now-Attorney General Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court to replace the late Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice. Senate Republicans refused to consider Garland and left the seat vacant until the Trump administration, when conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch filled the vacancy. The current conservative majority on the high court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer.
“I can tell you from experience that midterms matter, a lot,” Obama said. “Some of you are too young but let me refresh your memories or give you a history lesson. When I was president, I got my butt whooped in midterm elections.”
The former president talked about abortion rights throughout his remarks, while rallying for Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman and gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro.
He bashed Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz for saying during a debate that health care decisions should be made between women, doctors and local political leaders.
“Really? Are you going to petition the mayor? Are you calling the sheriff? City council members? School board? Who exactly should tell you when to start a family? You should make that decision,” Obama said. “And if that’s not worth 15 minutes of your time — the amount of time it takes to vote — I don’t know what is.”
He also said that Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano has said women who get an abortion and the doctors who provide abortions should be prosecuted.
“You deserve leaders who will stand up for a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own health care decisions,” he said.
Obama joined President Biden for the rally in Philadelphia on Saturday evening, bringing his star power to the Keystone State, where the Senate race could decide control of the upper chamber.
The rally, just three days before the election, comes as Oz was leading Fetterman 48 percent to 46 percent among very likely voters in a recent poll.