Leaked Supreme Court Draft Opinion Shows Plan to Overturn Roe v. Wade, Chief Justice John Roberts Responds (UPDATE)

Politico published a leaked draft opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision on abortion.


Exterior of Supreme Court of the United States on First Street in Washington DC, USA with statue by James Earle Fraser titled Authority of Law (1935)


UPDATED 5/3, 11:31 a.m. ET: Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court issued a statement confirming the authenticity of the draft opinion included in the original Politico piece. An investigation into the leak of the draft has been ordered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

“Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court,” Roberts said. “This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.”

JUST IN: The Supreme Court confirms the authenticity of the draft opinion revealed last night by Politico. The chief justice has ordered an investigation into the leak. pic.twitter.com/XZweHdyhCG

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) May 3, 2022

See original story below.

On Tuesday, Politico published a 98-page initial draft majority opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that protects abortion rights.

Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” the draft from Alito, which was circulated back in February, reportedly reads. “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.”

It’s important to note that Roe v. Wade has yet to be officially overturned and that some justices could potentially change their votes in the future. If Roe v. Wade is actually overturned, abortion rights would no longer be protected on the federal level and would instead be decided by individual state governments. A final decision could be announced in one to two months, Politico reports. The leak is the first of its kind as early Supreme Court opinion drafts have never circulated publicly in the modern era before being finalized and published, according to The New York Times and other outlets.

The immediate impact of the ruling as drafted in February would end a half-century guarantee of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights and allow each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion https://t.co/nl3JFLx9xg

— POLITICO (@politico) May 3, 2022

Although the leaked draft didn’t include the names of those that supported Alito’s opinion, the justices that are in favor of overturning Roe v Wade are reportedly the conservatives Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, according to Politico. On the flip side, Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan are said to be working on dissents. It is not clear how Chief Justice John Roberts will vote on the issue. The leaked opinion is in response to Dobbs v. Jackson, a case that is looking at if a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions at 15 weeks is constitutional. 

News of the leaked draft opinion has sparked strong reactions from people across social media, including U.S.senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

An extremist Supreme Court is poised to overturn #RoeVWade and impose its far-right, unpopular views on the entire country. It's time for the millions who support the Constitution and abortion rights to stand up and make their voices heard. We're not going back—not ever.

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 3, 2022

Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW. And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 3, 2022

You can read more reactions to the news below.

However the decision ultimately comes down, the ACLU will never stop fighting for the right to choose when and if to have a child.

— ACLU (@ACLU) May 3, 2022

Let's be clear: This is a draft opinion. It’s outrageous, it’s unprecedented, but it is not final.
Abortion is your right — and it is STILL LEGAL. https://t.co/s9R7w99n71

— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) May 3, 2022

Abortion care is a fundamental human right and we must legislate like it.

— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) May 3, 2022

A stolen, illegitimate, and far-right Supreme Court majority appears set to destroy the right to abortion, an essential right which protects the health, safety, and freedom of millions of Americans. There is no other recourse. We must expand the court.

— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) May 3, 2022

As we’ve warned, SCOTUS isn’t just coming for abortion - they’re coming for the right to privacy Roe rests on, which includes gay marriage + civil rights.

Manchin is blocking Congress codifying Roe. House has seemingly forgotten about Clarence Thomas. These 2 points must change https://t.co/5Isec0osV0

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 3, 2022

Not surprising. But still outrageous.

This decision is a direct assault on the dignity, rights, & lives of women, not to mention decades of settled law. It will kill and subjugate women even as a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal. What an utter disgrace. https://t.co/TNo1IX3Tl4

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 3, 2022

Tuesday morning, President Joe Biden released an extended statement outlining what he said were “three points” about which he wanted to be clear. Among them was his assertion that, should the Court overturn Roe v. Wade, “it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose.” Biden also said it would fall on voters.

“At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law,” Biden said.

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