The Major Flaw in Trump's Argument About Overturning Abortion Rights

Donald Trump appeared on 60 Minutes on Sunday night in his first interview as president-elect to discuss his surprising victory and plans for the next four years. During the sit-down, Trump told CBS's Lesley Stahl that he would accept the Supreme Court's decision in favor of gay marriage because it's "settled" law. But he also said he would appoint judges to the bench who "will be pro-life" and could overturn Roe v. Wade, letting states decide whether women can get abortions. (See it in the clip above.)

The problem with his answer is that Trump doesn't apply the same logic to abortion as he does to marriage equality. Roe v. Wade has dictated the law on abortion rights for more than 40 years, and as the ACLU pointed out with a tweet, abortion access has already been settled by the Supreme Court. (Gay marriage became legal nationwide in June 2015.)

The fact that Trump will nominate at least one Supreme Court justice does not mean Roe v. Wade will magically be overturned; a case would have to make its way to the justices, and they would have to agree to hear the case. Given the principle of precedent that guides the court, it seems unlikely that Trump will be able to reverse the landmark case overnight, but his justice appointments might be able to damage women's reproductive rights in many other ways.