The Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade according to a leaked draft ruling published by the left-wing news outlet Politico. A document that Politico describes as an “initial draft majority opinion” written by Justice Samuel Alito says the Supreme Court has decided to strike down Roe v. Wade, the controversial 1973 ruling that wrested away regulation of abortion from state control and legalized the procedure across the country.
After publication online, protests broke out at the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., but the greater controversy, say court watchers, is it constitutes an unprecedented breach of Supreme Court protocol and trust. Speculation swirls that a staffer for one of the court’s liberal justices leaked the draft in an attempt to create pressure on the justices to change the ruling before it is officially released.
Pro-lifers were hopeful that this decision would be made by the U.S. Supreme Court after the court heard arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case last year, which concerns Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.
The decision could cause protests across the nation, with one photo already showing that large barricades have been erected around the Supreme Court building in the nation’s capitol.
In a 2,400-word article last night, Politico describes the draft opinion as “a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision–Planned Parenthood v. Casey–that largely maintained the right.” The opinion is 67 pages long, followed by a 31-page appendix.
The unauthorized public disclosure of the draft opinion is likely to make public debate over the most controversial case of the current Supreme Court term even more impassioned.
Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who said he opposes Roe being reversed, told Fox News he couldn’t recall a Supreme Court opinion ever being leaked to the media.
“I have a theory, and it’s only a theory. I think this was leaked by a liberal law clerk who was trying to change the outcome of the case, either by putting pressure on some of the justices to change their mind, or by getting Congress to pack the court even before June, which is very unlikely, or to get Congress to pass a national right-to-abortion law, which would apply to all the states,” Dershowitz said.
It’s impossible to overstate the earthquake this will cause inside the Court, in terms of the destruction of trust among the Justices and staff. This leak is the gravest, most unforgivable sin.
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) May 3, 2022
The influential SCOTUSblog website weighed in on Twitter, writing on May 2 at 9:07 p.m.: “It’s impossible to overstate the earthquake this will cause inside the Court, in terms of the destruction of trust among Justices and staff. This leak is the gravest, most unforgivable sin.”
Senate candidate and popular U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville was one of dozens of lawmakers criticizing the decision to leak the draft, calling the move “outrageous and dangerous.”
“I pray and remain hopeful [the U.S. Supreme Court] stays true to this potential decision, but this unprecedented, intentional leak is malicious and threatens the independence of our highest court,” Hartzler tweeted on Monday.
The FBI has said it will investigate the leak.
The document Politico bases its article on is an apparent photocopy of an original document that is marked “1st Draft” and that indicates it was circulated among the other justices on Feb. 10, 2022. It is unclear if the draft opinion has been changed since Feb. 10. Justices often change their minds in deliberations as they attempt to win over other members of the court to their point of view.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito states in the document.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito writes in the document, which is labeled as “the opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The draft begins: “Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views. Some believe fervently that a human person comes into being at conception and that abortion ends an innocent life. Others feel just as strongly that any regulation of abortion invades a woman’s right to control her own body and prevents women from achieving full equality. Still others in a third group think that abortions should be allowed under some but not all circumstances, and those within this group hold a variety of views about the particular restrictions that should be imposed.”
The purported draft opinion on the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, court file 19-1392, a challenge by the only state-licensed abortion clinic in Mississippi to the state’s Gestational Age Act, which allows abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation only for medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormality. Citing Roe, lower courts held the state statute was unconstitutional.
The Dobbs case is the first direct challenge to Roe in the high court since Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment on Oct. 26, 2020, gave the court’s nominally conservative wing a 6–3 majority. Some conservative court observers argue the conservative-to-liberal split is more like 5-4 because they consider Chief Justice John Roberts to be a moderate or even a liberal because he frequently sides with liberal justices when the court seems on the verge of overturning a precedent disliked by conservatives. Barrett replaced the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died the previous Sept. 18.
Ginsburg was a defender of abortion but she spoke out about the problems she saw with the Roe decision. For example, at a May 11, 2013 appearance at University of Chicago Law School, she said her “criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum on the side of change.” It would have been better if abortion rights had been brought about more gradually, preferably in a process that included state legislatures and courts, she said. “Roe isn’t really about the woman’s choice, is it?” Ginsburg said. “It’s about the doctor’s freedom to practice…it wasn’t woman-centered, it was physician-centered.”
While the current draft of the ruling does indeed overturn the landmark pro-abortion precedent that has resulted in over the murder of 60 million babies, the decision will not be considered official until the opinion is published by the court, likely within the next two months according to Politico.
–Wire services and Metro Voice