In response to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) effort to codify Roe v. Wade into state law, a Democratic city council member from the Buena Vista Township is switching his political affiliation.
Committee member John Williams — the only Democrat in his township — announced his swap from Democrat to Republican just days after Murphy signed legislation codifying abortion access into state law, a bill abortion advocates have argued is necessary as the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn its landmark 1973 ruling on Roe v. Wade, which gave nationwide legal cover for abortion.
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“I have thought long and hard about this decision and I am not happy that the governor expanded abortion legislation,” Williams said in a statement shared with the New Jersey Globe. “I am pro-life, and I am doing this to have a better shot to stay on council and for religious reasons.”
Atlantic County Democratic Chair Michael Suleiman responded to Williams’ party switch, calling him “a charlatan and a coward.”
“It amazes me that John would actually put in writing that he’s switching parties just so he can stay in elected office,” Suleiman said. “If a jury ever found John Williams guilty of being a smart person, they’d be convicting an innocent man.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, New Jersey has the highest abortion rate in the country.
Murphy said it’s critical for the state to continue to protect — and expand — abortion access.
“The United States Supreme Court is preparing to take a wrecking ball to its own precedent of Roe v. Wade, and that would also demolish our case law-based foundation here in New Jersey,” he said last week.
The governor’s comments — and the legislation he signed — comes after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging a Mississippi state law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Given the high court’s conservative majority, it’s likely the justices will uphold the law and overturn the Roe v. Wade precedent.
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