Former Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis made a passionate appeal on Hillary Clinton’s behalf to Duke Law School students Friday, calling this year's presidential election the most important election of her lifetime.
“I’ve lived through a lot of elections, and I’ve often heard, 'this is the most important election,'" Davis, 53, told a group of students during a roundtable discussion in the Law School. “But this truly is the most important. We are at a turning point in terms of our very identity as a country.”
Davis, a Democrat, became a national figure in 2013 when she spoke for 11 hours to filibuster a restrictive abortion access law in Texas. In June, the Supreme Court struck down that law, declaring that the restrictions the state intended to impose unconstitutionally burdened women seeking abortions.
Calling the Supreme Court “a voice for the voiceless,” Davis emphasized the importance of considering who Donald Trump would appoint to the Court if elected.
"He’s already very committed to appointing justices who will unwind Roe v. Wade,” she said, referring to the 1973 landmark abortion access case. “A lot of us in this country who have benefited from the decision of Roe in the 1970s have come to believe that’s a right that can’t possibly be unwound. But it absolutely can be — in a heartbeat actually.”
She added that a Supreme Court that includes Trump appointees would also likely undo important civil rights gains that have been made.
Young voters, she told The Chronicle, should recognize that the Court has the power to impact the future of this country for decades to come—and that they should consider it when they cast their vote in November.
"I’m a big Hillary Clinton supporter,” said Davis, who also campaigned in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Raleigh for Clinton. "I believe in her. And I’m voting for her. But I understand that some young people may not share my enthusiasm in this particular campaign. I hope that at the very least they’ll understand that voting against Donald Trump’s ability to determine our future with these Supreme Court appointments will make enough of a difference that they’ll come support.”
Davis, who grew up on the poverty line and had her first daughter when she was 19, said her own success was only possible because of policies like those that Clinton promotes. She noted that she was able to pursue her education—attending community college then Texas Christian University then Harvard Law School—because of policies that made education and child care affordable.
“We as women talk a lot about the class ceiling that we hit at some points in time in our career,” Davis said. "But the lack of affordable quality child care is a concrete ceiling for so many women and their families.
She added that the “safety net is not nearly as strong as it once was," and that Clinton is the candidate to fix that. She explained that Clinton's policies on affordable education, access to healthcare, paid family leave and equal pay will “lift all sides.” Her views are in "stark contrast" to those of Trump, who she described as protecting the interests of the top one percent.
Davis, who met with undergraduate student leaders at Duke yesterday, told The Chronicle that she has been impressed by the enthusiasm she has seen in North Carolina, and that she hopes it continues.
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Clinton and Trump are tied, 41 percent to 41 percent, among likely voters in North Carolina, according to a New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll released Thursday.
“North Carolina is literally the roadmap to success for either of these candidates,” Davis said. “We literally cannot afford to leave a single vote behind.”