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Pence nods to role of judges in conservative push on abortion

The next Republican administration should work to curtail the power of executive agencies, the former vice president says

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks Tuesday during the Federalist Society's  conference in Washington.
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks Tuesday during the Federalist Society's conference in Washington. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Former Vice President Mike Pence told a legal group Tuesday in Washington that the next Republican administration should work to curtail the power of executive agencies and pointed to recent legal fights over abortion access.

“Restraining and reclaiming the legislative prerogatives of the legislative branch from the administrative state should be one of the most important objectives of the next Republican administration,” Pence said at an event put on by the Federalist Society.

The former Indiana governor, widely considered a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination but who has made no announcement, also touched on the importance of judicial nominations to that effort.

The Federalist Society and particularly one of its leaders, Leonard Leo, played a leading role in shaping the Trump administration’s judicial appointments — even helping to create Trump’s shortlist of Supreme Court nominees during the 2016 campaign.

Pence said Tuesday he was proud to be part of the administration that seated three Supreme Court justices who last year helped overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that first legalized abortion in 1973.

Pence also praised Justice Neil M. Gorsuch as “no greater champion of reining in the administrative state.”

“I’m proud to have seen him added to the Supreme Court of the United States. It’s hope for the future,” Pence said.

Pence also pointed to the ongoing high-profile legal challenge to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, a medication abortion drug.

The FDA approval of the drug, he said, was another example of “administrative state” overreach that essentially usurped legislative authority.

“In this instance, this to me is as much about the cause of the unborn and the cause of protecting women. But it’s also about reining in an administrative state,” Pence said of the challenge.

Last week, the Supreme Court halted lower court rulings that would have limited the availability of mifepristone. The court kept access to the drug while the challenge moves through the court system.

Pence also praised the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to block federal agency rules, calling it one of the most important pieces of legislation.

House Republicans have wielded that power in pushing back on moves from the Biden administration.

For example, in a party-line vote last week, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee advanced a joint resolution that would block a Biden administration rule to strengthen regulations on firearms with stabilizing braces.

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