In a leak of a bombshell draft majority opinion, it appears that the US Supreme Court is poised to reverse a half-century of precedent and overturn the landmark abortion ruling and declare Roe v. Wade unconstitutional!
The majority opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito and leaked to Politico in an extraordinary breach of Supreme Court procedure.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes in the 98-page draft opinion obtained by the outlet.
The opinion rejects the 1973 decision that guaranteed constitutional protections for abortion rights as well as the subsequent Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, 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 ruling, which was apparently written back in February, would end the federal abortion protections and instead leave the decision up to each state to restrict or ban abortions.
It’s not clear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft, Politico reported.
No draft decision in the court’s modern history has been released publicly while a final decision on a case was still pending, according to the outlet.
Supreme Court spokesperson Patricia McCabe told The NY Post and other outlets reporting on the unprecedented leak, “The Court has no comment.”
SCOTUS judges are known to have changed their votes as opinions circulate, Politico noted, and major decisions such as this can go through multiple drafts before any kind of final decision is made.
A source familiar with the court’s discussions on the matter told Politico that four of the other conservative justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — joined Alito in his vote after the judges convened following oral arguments in December.
The four judges have maintained their positions as of this week. The source said Democratic-appointed justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan were working on one or more dissents, leaving Justice John Roberts — who is expected to either irrelevantly join the dissent or pen an opinion of his own.
The right to have an abortion up until around 23 or 24 weeks has been federally protected under the Constitution since Roe v. Wade 49 years ago.
In December, the Supreme Court signaled its willingness to overturn the landmark case and permit a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks.
If the Alito draft is adopted, it would rule in favor of Mississippi — prompting about 26 states in the South and Midwest to move to immediately ban abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights advocacy research group.
Few Supreme Court decisions have been as nationally divisive as Roe v. Wade, which was confirmed by a 7-3 vote in 1973. Since the Supreme Court agreed to re-look at the controversial decision last year, rhetoric from both sides has heated up as each side awaits the court’s ruling.
The leak of the opinion draft is likely to add gasoline to the fire. Almost as soon as the news about the draft opinion broke, barricades were placed around the Supreme Court building in Washington DC in anticipation of protests.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division,” Alito, who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2006, wrote in the opinion.
Alito rejected that the right to an abortion is protected in the Constitution and instead should be left up to the states, writing that Roe “imposed the same highly restrictive regime on the entire Nation, and it effectively struck down the abortion laws of every single state.”
“The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions,” Alito wrote.
“The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” the draft concludes.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if the report is accurate, “the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years – not just on women but on all Americans.”
She added: “The Republican-appointed Justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history. “
The court’s final decision is expected later this spring.