Harris says Democrats "should have rightly believed" Roe was settled law

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For more of Robert Costa's interview with Vice President Kamala Harris, watch "Face the Nation" Sunday.

When the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the U.S. for nearly half a century, it deprived American women of "a constitutional right," says Vice President Kamala Harris.

"I think all of us share a deep sense of outrage that the United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right that was recognized, took it from the women of America," she told CBS News chief election and campaign correspondent Robert Costa in an interview Friday. She added, "We are now looking at a case where the government can interfere in what is one of the most intimate and private decisions that someone can make."

The Biden administration concedes that its ability to undo the high court's action is limited, and that the most direct route to fully restoring abortion access to women would be for Congress to pass a law. For now, the administration is trying to do what it can — earlier Friday, as Harris stood next to President Biden, he signed an executive order aimed at helping women seeking abortions, by protecting their rights to medication abortions and their ability to travel to states where abortion is legal.

Harris took note of the president's action, but emphasized that "we also need Congress to act because that branch of government is where we actually codify, which means put into law, the rights that again, we took for granted, but clearly have now been taken from the women of America."

"And that does have to happen," she said, adding, "and we should not allow ourselves to minimize the significance of that, which is Congress needs to act."

Costa asked Harris whether Democrats had erred in not acting earlier: "When you look back, did Democrats fail, past Democratic presidents, congressional leaders, to not codify Roe v. Wade over the past five decades?"

"I think that, to be very honest with you, I — I do believe that we should have rightly believed, but we certainly believed that certain issues are just settled," she responded. "Certain issues are just settled."

Costa pointed out that was clearly not the case here.

"No, that's right," Harris replied. "And that's why I do believe that we are living — sadly — in real unsettled times."

The 5-4 Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe has led to some recriminations against newer members of the court, particularly Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Costa asked Harris about senators who have claimed the two misled them during their confirmation hearings on whether Roe was settled law, noting that some Democrats have even called for their impeachment.

Harris did not weigh in on whether they should be impeached, but she said, "I start from the point of experience of having served in the Senate. I never believed them. I didn't believe them. It's why I voted against."

The vice president also argued that other hard-won rights may be threatened now, like the rights of gay people to marry and even the rights of Americans to have access to voting.

"You know, you look at it in terms of, there's another example of this point — voting rights. You know, my parents were active in the civil rights movement," Harris said. "People marched and fought — broad coalitions of people across race and religion and ethnicity and gender — to say that, you know, fundamental principle of our, of our democracy is everyone should have access, who are entitled to have access, to vote ... And now you see states across the country that are intentionally making it more difficult for people to vote. We thought that was settled."

Harris, like Mr. Biden, believes that ultimately, it's now up to Congress to step in and make Roe the law of the land.

"If you think about the Voting Rights Act, Congress acted, Civil Rights Act, Congress acted because where there was any question, especially through the courts or any other system, about the sanctity of these rights, we decided as a nation, we would put it into law," Harris said. "That's what we need to do with Roe and the principles behind Roe."

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