Supreme Court's Overturning of Roe Won't 'Stand Long': HHS Secretary

Xavier Becerra, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, said Sunday that he doesn't believe that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month that overturned the landmark abortion rights case, Roe v. Wade, will "stand long."

His comments came during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, during which host Chuck Todd asked the secretary why Democrats in Congress never acted to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

"Have you thought about the fact that at times when you were in Congress there were some big Democratic majorities. Was this just something that folks thought was never really at risk and that's why it never got brought up for codification?" Todd asked Becerra, who previously served in Congress by representing California.

"I've been around long enough to know that nothing's ever totally safe. But remember, we still haven't even been able to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, and so this country has a way to go," Becerra responded.

Xavier Becerra Roe v. Wade
In thus combination image, Xavier Becerra, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), speaks during a news conference at the HHS headquarters in Washington, D.C., US, on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Under the White House's direction, Becerra unveiled an action plan in response to the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Abortion rights activists Carrie McDonald (L) and Soraya Bata react to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling which overturns the landmark abortion Roe v. Wade case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. Getty

"But certainly I don't believe this decision by this Court in Dobbs is going to stand long. This is just not America. We're not about taking rights," Becerra said, referring to Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the case in which the Court's majority opinion overturned Roe.

He added: "Most people around the world haven't looked at the U.S. as the beacon of light because we do things like Dobbs. Just the opposite. So I'm confident that we're going to get past this. It's just that for now, the five justices on the Supreme Court have made life very difficult and, in some cases, impossible for some women."

"So that means this has to be done legislatively?" Todd asked. "There is no other way to fix this because the Court is the Court for quite some time."

"Well, the Court is the Court," Becerra said. "The Court can undo the injustice it just visited on millions of women. But I don't expect five do that. And so the next-best route is to pass a law to codify Roe."

On Thursday, President Joe Biden said he would support changing the Senate's filibuster rule for Congress to codify Roe into law.

"If the filibuster gets in the way, it's like voting rights, it should be—we provide an exception for this, should require an exception to the filibuster for this action, to deal with the Supreme Court decision," Biden said.

The Senate's filibuster rule requires that 60 votes in the Senate are needed to pass a law. This presents a challenge for Democrats who, while they hold the slim majority, only have 50 seats in the Senate.

However, Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, have said they oppose ending the filibuster, which Biden has admitted means Democrats don't have enough votes to do so.