The opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito follows a presumed preliminary vote between the court’s nine justices.
By Matthew Royer, News Editor
A draft opinion leaked from within the U.S. Supreme Court spells the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the nation’s landmark ruling in defense of abortion rights and women’s health.
Late Monday afternoon, the country was struck by a report published by Politico which states that “Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights.” A leaked opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito presumes the court has at least a majority of justices in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade and the subsequent 1992 decision of Casey v. Planned Parenthood.
Roe v. Wade was a case decided by the nation’s highest court in 1973 and defends a pregnant person’s right to choose to terminate their pregnancy without government intervention. Despite many challenges, the case was assumed to be “settled law,” as even said by Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his 2018 confirmation hearing.
“If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted to confirm both justices in a statement.
This movement toward striking down the precedent set by Roe and Casey was kickstarted by Republican-controlled legislatures passing anti-abortion laws in their respective states. In the case in which the Alito opinion originates, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi passed a bill that outright bans abortion after the first 15 weeks of a pregnancy. While lower courts ruled in favor of upholding the historical model, the state took the argument all the way to the Supreme Court, where the case is still technically pending.
On Tuesday morning, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the leak, despite the rarity of its nature.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” said Roberts in a court press release. “The work of the court will not be affected in any way… I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”
While the court’s immediate focus was on the question of how the opinion ended up in the hands of the free press, Democratic politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were visibly angry by the developments and public crowds began to gather outside of the Supreme Court. According to The Washington Post, by Tuesday night thousands of Americans had gathered in Washington in support of abortion rights.
Crowds did not just contain themselves within the federal district. Almost every major city in the United States had noted demonstrations, including hundreds gathering in Downtown Los Angeles marching from the federal courthouse to Pershing Square. Police presence was active as the streets were quickly overrun with impassioned citizens demanding bodily autonomy from their government
“Not the court, not the state, women must decide their fate,” chanted protesters as they made their way through the city.”
Activists are quick to note that overturning Roe v. Wade would not restrict the practice of abortions from occurring, just the access to safe abortions in the 24 states in which anti-abortion laws are ready to take effect if finalized by the Supreme Court. Some state and city governments are seeking to strengthen their current abortion laws to become “safe havens” for individuals seeking help.
In Los Angeles, according to the Daily Breeze, the board of supervisors unanimously passed a motion to help craft legislation in Sacramento that would make abortion available to all in California, including out-of-state residents. While in the capital city, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) rapidly worked together to affirm abortion rights and planned efforts to “enshrine the right to choose” into the California state constitution.
“California will not stand idly by as women across America are stripped of their rights and the progress so many have fought for gets erased,” said the governor and legislative leaders in a press release. “We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution. Women will remain protected here.”
The final decision from the Supreme Court on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is not expected for months.