A first draft of an opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Roe V. Wade was leaked May 2, 2022, and published by Politico in full.
You can read the initial draft opinion here. The 98-page leak indicates the Supreme Court voted to strike down Roe V. Wade, with conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett siding with the majority opinion.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Alito’s draft says.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Alito wrote. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Chief Justice John Roberts Confirmed the Authenticity of the Draft & Ordered an Investigation Into the Leak
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. released a statement in the hours after the leak circulated, confirming the authenticity of the leaked draft and saying that an investigation would be launched into how it happened.
The statement said that drafts are routinely circulated internally as “part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work.” It further said the opinion does not represent a decision or a final position of the Court or of any Justice.
Chief Justice Roberts’ statement said:
To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.
We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce – permanent employees and law clerks alike – intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court. 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.
I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.
Politico commented to NPR on the leak, saying the outlet received, “a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document.”
What Does Overturning Roe V. Wade Mean? States Could Legally Restrict or Ban Abortions
Roe V. Wade offers Constitutional protections to women seeking abortions, so overturning Roe would not ban abortions, but it would allow states to create laws restricting abortions or banning them outright. Several states have already taken steps toward restricting, outlawing or even criminalizing abortions.
The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, published an article on “Abortion Policy in the Absence of Roe” updated May 1, 2022. It says that overturning Roe would leave the legality of abortion up to individual states, and provide a legal pathway for states to restrict or ban abortions.
Twenty-six states would likely ban abortion in the absence of Roe, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Some of those states have laws “designed to be ‘triggered’ and take effect automatically or by swift state action if Roe is overturned,” Guttmacher writes.
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