President Joe Biden said women have a ‘fundamental’ right to an abortion and called on American voters to ‘elect pro-choice officials this November’ in Tuesday morning statement, hours after a memo leaked that suggests the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
He also pledged the White House would be ‘ready when any ruling is issued.’ The Supreme Court confirmed the draft was authentic late on Tuesday morning.
Biden reasserted his position after the leak was confirmed, telling reporters just before boarding Air Force one that it was ‘really quite a radical decision’ and ‘a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence.’
Less than 12 hours earlier, the Democratic leaders of Congress released a joint statement blasting the leaked opinion as an ‘abomination’ and accusing the high court’s conservatives of ‘ripping up the Constitution.’
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer then took to the Senate floor and delivered a searing rebuke echoing his Monday night statement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and announcing the Senate will hold a vote on federal abortion legislation — after a similar effort tanked earlier this year.
It comes as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other conservative lawmakers cheered the potential ruling, while calling for investigations and even criminal charges for the source of the historic leak.
Biden began his statement pointing out his White House’s efforts to protect abortion writes, declaring: ‘My administration argued strongly before the Court in defense of Roe v. Wade. We said that Roe is based on “a long line of precedent recognizing ‘the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty’… against government interference with intensely personal decisions.” I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.’
He also repeated past condemnation of Texas state law SB 8, nicknamed the Heartbeat Act, which limits abortions after six weeks — before most women even know they’re pregnant.
‘Second, shortly after the enactment of Texas law SB 8 and other laws restricting women’s reproductive rights, I directed my Gender Policy Council and White House Counsel’s Office to prepare options for an Administration response to the continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights, under a variety of possible outcomes in the cases pending before the Supreme Court. We will be ready when any ruling is issued,’ Biden said.
His last point was a direct appeal to American voters — and perhaps a veiled shot at moderate senators like Joe Manchin, who voted along with Republicans to block Democrats’ last attempt to federalize abortion rights with the Women’s Health Protection Act in March.
‘If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November,’ Biden pressed.
‘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.’
Also on the Supreme Court fight…
- Chief Justice John Roberts announced an investigation into the source of the Supreme Court leak
- Progressive lawmakers have renewed calls to abolish the filibuster in order to pass federal abortion protections
- Twenty-six Republican-controlled states are poised to ban abortion rights if Roe v. Wade is overturned
- The leaked draft is part of a case currently being deliberated in front of the court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, where Mississippi officials are looking to outlaw abortion after 15 weeks and scrap Roe altogether
- Senate GOP Leader McConnell called for the leaker to face criminal charges
- Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin claimed the next step after removing federal abortion protections would be legalizing forced sterilization for women
- The draft opinion was authored by Justice Samuel Alito and only directly represents his views, but could signal the court’s conservative supermajority feels the same
- GOP Senator Susan Collins said the opinion is ‘completely inconsistent with what [Trump-appointed] Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office.’
- Republican Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stood with Democratic state leaders to criticize the draft
Pro-life and pro-choice demonstrators gather in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 3
The court is expected to issue a decision by June. The draft opinion calls the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision ‘egregiously wrong from the start’
Less than two hours later, Schumer blasted former President Donald Trump and the Republican lawmakers who aided him in getting three conservative justices onto the Supreme Court to form its decisive right-wing majority.
‘This is a dark and disturbing morning for America,’ the New York Democrat began.
‘Under this decision, our children will have less rights than their parents.’
He continued, ‘These conservative justices who are in no way accountable to the American people have lied to the US Senate, ripped up the Constitution, and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation.’
‘The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has completely devolved into the party of Trump.’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell returned fire, criticizing Biden, Pelosi and Schumer’s statements as ‘disgraceful.’
‘The disgraceful statements by President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Schumer refuse to defend judicial independence and the rule of law and instead play into this toxic spectacle. Real leaders should defend the Court’s independence unconditionally,’ McConnell said.
The Supreme Court is poised to strike down the right to abortion in the US, according to a leaked draft of a majority opinion that would shred nearly 50 years of constitutional protections
Democrat lawmakers have ramped up calls to enshrine abortion rights in federal law while Republicans have been demanding to know who leaked the court’s draft
President Joe Biden vowed the White House would be ‘ready’ whenever the Supreme Court did deliver an opinion on Roe v. Wade
He also called on the leaker to be investigated and even criminally charged.
‘Last night’s stunning breach was an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court. By every indication, this was yet another escalation in the radical left’s ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law,’ McConnell declared.
Biden’s full statement on reported Supreme Court leak
We do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court.
With that critical caveat, I want to be clear on three points about the cases before the Supreme Court.
First, my administration argued strongly before the Court in defense of Roe v. Wade. We said that Roe is based on “a long line of precedent recognizing ‘the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty’… against government interference with intensely personal decisions.” I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.
Second, shortly after the enactment of Texas law SB 8 and other laws restricting women’s reproductive rights, I directed my Gender Policy Council and White House Counsel’s Office to prepare options for an Administration response to the continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights, under a variety of possible outcomes in the cases pending before the Supreme Court. We will be ready when any ruling is issued.
Third, if the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November. 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.
‘This lawless action should be investigated and punished as fully as possible. The Chief Justice must get to the bottom of it and the Department of Justice must pursue criminal charges if applicable.’
Politico reported Monday night that Justice Samuel Alito, one of six justices appointed by Republican presidents on the nine-member court, wrote a majority draft opinion in February repudiating both Roe and the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision.
The Supreme Court confirmed the draft was authentic in a late Tuesday morning statement but defended it as ‘a routine and essential part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work,’ nor does it ‘represent a decision by the court or the final position of any member.’
‘To the extent this betrayal of 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,’ Chief Justice John Roberts said in the statement.
‘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 are an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the court.’
Roberts announced that the court would open an investigation into the source of the leak.
Conservatives throughout the country celebrated the news of a Supreme Court draft opinion that is set to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case – but have denounced the leak as an attempt to ‘intimidate’ the justices into changing their minds.
Meanwhile progressives led Democrats‘ outrage over the stunning reversal of high court precedent, with some even renewing calls to end the Senate filibuster.
‘People elected Democrats precisely so we could lead in perilous moments like these- to codify Roe, hold corruption accountable, & have a President who uses his legal authority to break through Congressional gridlock on items from student debt to climate,’ Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter late Monday night.
She added: ‘It’s high time we do it.’
The firebrand Democrat posed a question to her colleagues asking them what message their outrage would be sending without action.
‘It’s time to be decisive, lead with confidence, fight for a prosperous future for all and protect the vulnerable,’ she said.
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans are demanding investigations into who leaked a Supreme Court draft opinion for the first time in history.
GOP Senator Mike Lee of Utah said whoever leaked the explosive memo ‘needs to be brought to justice’ in an interview on Fox News soon after the report.
‘This entire kerfuffle has been brought about as a result of an unscrupulous person trying to subvert 235 years of tradition, trying to subvert the way the Supreme Court operates,’ Lee said.
He also released a statement on Monday night calling the decision ‘well-reasoned’ but further panned the leak as ‘dangerous, despicable, and damaging.’
The Utah conservative is on a Senate subcommittee that will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on Monday about ‘transparency and accountability for 21st century courts.’
‘I have questions about whether that person should ever be allowed to practice law. That something that will be worked out in due time. These are small circles. As a former Supreme Court clerk I can tell you there are very few people in the entire building who had access to the opinion,’ he said on Fox.
‘I am virtually certain there are number people inside the court, probably figured out who it is. That person needs to be brought to justice and held to account to what they did. This is the first and what I predict will be a series of other attempts to delegitimize the supreme court of the United States in the coming months.’
Tennessee’s Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted: ‘I have no doubt that the Chief Justice will work to root out the radical activist that betrayed the sacred tradition of the court. The leaker must be immediately removed from their position and exiled from the legal community.’
Republican Rep. Greg Steube of Texas said: ‘It is unfortunate that the news of the greatest victory for the Pro Life movement comes on the heels of one of the most profound breaches of trust the Court has ever seen.’
Protesters descended upon the court late on Monday night after Politico reported the Supreme Court’s bombshell draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade
Meanwhile Democrats across the country have reacted with outrage, with many renewing calls for the landmark ruling to be codified into federal law
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas called on President Joe Biden’s Justice Department to ‘get to the bottom’ of the matter and, like his colleagues, shared praise for the high court’s reported decision.
‘The Supreme Court & the DOJ must get to the bottom of this leak immediately using every investigative tool necessary. In the meantime, Roe was egregiously wrong from the beginning & I pray the Court follows the Constitution & allows the states to once again protect unborn life,’ Cotton said on Monday night.
Following suit, moderate Republican Senator Mitt Romney on Tuesday morning called for both an investigation and consequences.
The Utah lawmaker began his statement by lauding the reported high court decision and said: ‘Laws regarding abortion would now be returned to the people and their elected representatives.’
‘The breach of the Court’s deliberative process, however, is an appalling affront against a critical institution and should be fully investigated and those responsible should be punished.’
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said the leaker should be disbarred if they are a law clerk.
Pro-choice activists remained outside the Supreme Court into Tuesday morning, hours after the bombshell Monday night report
Democrats have been renewing calls to scuttle the Senate filibuster in order to pass legislation safeguarding Roe v. Wade
Sanders led the left wing in demanding his colleagues scuttle the filibuster to pass pro-choice legislation with a simple majority.
‘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,’ the Independent senator said.
Democrats previously tried to scuttle the filibuster to pass federal voting rights legislation with only their 50 seats in the chamber plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, but the effort failed in the face of moderate opposition within their own party.
Sanders’ former adviser and current Ohio House candidate Nina Turner echoed her ex-boss’ calls.
‘Protecting abortion rights is not a midterm pitch—Democrats have the power now. We have the majority in Congress and we have the White House. Instead of drafting fundraising emails tonight, our elected leaders should be in DC voting to codify Roe & getting rid of the filibuster,’ Turner said on Twitter.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York called for top-down reforms on all levels of government, ‘even if it means eliminating the filibuster.’
Meanwhile in Mississippi, whose Supreme Court case against the last abortion clinic in the state is at the heart of the greatest challenge to abortion rights this century, pro-life and pro-choice activists are demonstrating outside of the clinic on May 3
Clinic escorts stand on the other side of the entrance to direct and deflect any interference from anti-abortion protestors
‘With far-right justices poised to overturn Roe, the lives of millions of Americans depend on us. We must codify the right to an abortion into federal law—even if it means eliminating the filibuster. We must flip state legislatures. And states like NY must open our doors,’ Gillibrand wrote on Twitter.
On the House side, Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow ‘Squad’ member Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri said the Supreme Court’s reported decision is a national ’emergency.’
‘Abolish the filibuster. Codify Roe. Expand the Supreme Court. Protect abortion rights by any means necessary. We need all of the above. This is an emergency,’ Bush said on Tuesday morning.
Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton’s former 2016 press secretary who is co-founder and executive director of Demand Justice, publicly pondered if the leaker was a ‘brave clerk’ hoping public outrage would reverse the monumental decision.
‘Is a brave clerk taking this unpredecented(sp) step of leaking a draft opinion to warn the country what’s coming in a last-ditch Hail Mary attempt to see if the public response might cause the Court to reconsider?’ Fallon questioned.
Utah GOP Senator Mike Lee called for the leaker to be ‘brought to justice.’ He’s on a Senate subcommittee that will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on Monday about ‘transparency and accountability for 21st century courts’
‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,’ Alito writes in the opinion, which was reportedly circulated among the court members. ‘We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,’ he continues in the document, titled ‘Opinion of the Court.’
‘It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.’
Alito’s draft does not necessarily represent the sentiments of other justices who did not pen the opinion, but it’s been suggested that the court’s 5-3 conservative supermajority will likely deliver on the historic reversal.
Republicans celebrated the decision, calling it a victory for the social conservatives and Christians who have worked for decades in lockstep to reach this moment.
Pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List hailed the report as a victory for their movement.
‘If the draft opinion made public tonight is the final opinion of the court, we wholeheartedly applaud the decision. The American people have the right to act through their elected officials to debate and enact laws that protect unborn children and honor women,’ SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said. ‘If Roe is indeed overturned, our job will be to build consensus for the strongest protections possible for unborn children and women in every legislature.’
The draft document is not final until the court formally announces its decision in a case, meaning the ruling could technically still be changed. The court is expected to issue its final ruling before its term is up in late June or early July.
That led to speculation from some on the right, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, that the Alito draft was leaked in the hopes public outrage could temper the court’s decision.
Indeed, following its release, several notable Democrats have already slammed the decision, saying they will not abide by it.
One Democratic Representative compared the decision to a dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, while California Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed the state would ‘fight like Hell’ to oppose the ruling.
‘Our daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers will not be silenced,’ Newsom tweeted Monday night. ‘The world is about to hear their fury.’
The Supreme Court is planning to vote to strike down the decision of Roe v. Wade, long considered a vanguard of guaranteeing a right to an abortion in the United States.
The opinion draft – originally obtained by Politico – was written by Justice Samuel Alito, one of the six justices appointed by Republican presidents on the nine-member court
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the ‘world is about to hear [the] fury’ of ‘our daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers’ as he vowed to fight back against the decision
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, questioned why the opinion was leaked
Reaction to the news of Alito’s draft opinion was swift Monday night, with conservative lawmakers celebrating the news after decades of fighting for an end to abortion rights – though they raised doubts about why the decision was leaked in the first place.
Mike Gibbons, who is currently facing Trump-endorsed candidate JD Vance in the Republican primary for an Ohio Senate seat, wrote that the decision marked a ‘huge pro-life victory,’ noting it’s ‘great to see the Court recognize all life is protected under the Constitution.
‘We still have to make sure we elect candidates that will continue to defend the unborn, which is exactly what I’ll do in the U.S. Senate.
Others, though, raised doubts about why the opinion was leaked to POLITICO, with Marco Rubio writing: ‘The next time you hear the far left preaching about how they are fighting to preserve our Republic’s institutions and norms remember how they leaked a Supreme Court opinion in an attempt to intimidate the justices on abortion.’
Republican Josh Hawley, of Missouri, also tweeted that the leak is ‘an unprecedented breach of confidentiality, clearly meant to intimidate.’
‘The Justices mustn’t give in to this attempt to corrupt the process,’ Hawley wrote. ‘Stay strong.’
Embattled Congressmember Madison Cawthorn also tweeted that the story ‘was meant to intimidate the Supreme Court into backing down.’
‘Pray for the end of Roe v. Wade. Pray the Court will defend innocent life. Pray the Court will stand strong,’ he urged his followers, noting: ‘Evil MUST not triumph. Science, common sense, and LIFE will win.’
And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, said in a statement she is ‘overwhelmed with emotion because this is the best news of our lifetime.
‘This is a great victory for God and the unborn who have been innocently slain for years, my entire lifetime,’ she said.
‘I want to urge everyone to continue to pray, people all over our country, people all over our world, have been praying to end abortion.
‘I want you to understand that there is going to be a major pushback in our country because there’s going to be people that are going to fight to keep it and they’re going to fight keep murdering the innocent unborn.
‘I want you to dig in in prayer and faith and continue to pray that this actually comes true when they do release their opinion that Roe v Wade will be overturned and abortion will end and this will return the rights back to the states.
‘I urge every single strong pro-life state to end it,’ she wrote.
On the left, Democrats and abortion rights activists slammed the decision – saying it is a ‘nightmare scenario’ as they vowed to fight the ruling.
In a statement following the news, Planned Parenthood CEO Jodi Hicks said: ‘This is the nightmare scenario we in the reproductive health, rights, and justice space have been sounding the alarm about and especially once the U.S. Supreme Court had a conservative majority.
‘And now, if this opinion truly is reflective of the final decision of the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices, then even if abortion remains legal today, we are just days away from more than 26 states banning access to abortion services, essential and safe health care that has been a constitutional right for nearly 50 years.’
‘Make no mistake about it, the plan has always been to ban and criminalize abortion ever since 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided,’ she claimed.
Rubio questioned the leak of Alito’s decision as a liberal plot on Monday night
Conservatives celebrated the news on Twitter Monday night – even as they questioned the leak
A number of Democrats have since come out against the decision, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying in a joint statement that the decision ‘would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history.’
They also used the opportunity to slam former President Trump, saying: ‘Several of these conservative justices, who are in no way accountable to the American people, have lied to the US Senate, ripped up the Constitution and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court’s reputation – all at the expense of tens of millions of women who could be stripped of their bodily autonomy and the Constitutional rights they’ve relied on for half a century.
‘The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has now completely devolved into the party of Trump,’ the two top Congressional Democrats continued, adding: ‘Every Republican Senator who supported Sen. McConnell and voted for Trump justices pretending that this day would never come will now have to explain themselves to the American people.’
And one-time Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also tweeted Monday night she is ‘not surprised’ by the news.
‘This decision is a direct assault on the dignity, rights and lives of women, not to mention decades of settled law,’ she wrote. ‘It will kill and subjugate women even as a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal.
‘What an utter disgrace.’
Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement following the news – apparently using the opportunity to slam former President Donald Trump
Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also tweeted that she was ‘not surprised’ by the news, but thought it was an ‘utter disgrace’
Many have now said they would fight the decision if it were passed – either at the federal or the state level.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy reminded his followers that he signed into law the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, which codifies the right to an abortion into New Jersey law.
‘New Jersey will not go backwards on reproductive rights,’ he wrote in a tweet.
Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said abortions rights would not be overturned ‘on my watch,’ and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also promised that ‘abortion will always be safe and accessible in New York,’ saying it will welcome anyone who says they need an abortion ‘with open arms.’
‘I refuse to let my new granddaughter have to fight for the rights that generations have fought for & won, rights that she should be guaranteed,’ Hochul tweeted.
At the same time, New York Attorney General Letitia James also promised in a tweet to ‘do everything in our power to protect the right to an abortion’ adding, ‘Congress must act immediately to do the same.’
And in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will ‘fight like hell to make sure abortion remains safe, legal and accessible in our state.’
Meanwhile Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, also criticized the reported opinion and spoke out for women’s right to choose.
‘If SCOTUS overturns Roe, it would be a massive setback for women in states without responsible laws protecting abortion access and reproductive health services,’ Baker said on Tuesday morning. ‘I am proud to support every woman’s right to choose and I am proud that MA has and will always protect every woman’s right to choose what is best for them.’
Sen. Elizabeth Warren also branded the Supreme Court ‘extremist’ in a tweet saying it will ‘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,’ Warren wrote. ‘We’re not going back—not ever.’
Prominent Democrats from across the country raged against the news on Twitter, as several Democratic governors vowed to protect abortion rights in their states
Maryland Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin, meanwhile, warned that Alito’s decision could also lead to bans on birth control as he claimed the decision is reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale.
He was referring to the novel by Margaret Atwood – which was later turned into a television show. In both iterations, women are forced by the state to give birth.
‘The basic legal claim here is that the word ‘abortion’ doesn’t appear in the Constitution, and of course it doesn’t appear in the Constitution,’ Raskin, a Constitutional lawyer, explained to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Monday night.
‘But the Supreme Court in 1973, in Roe v. Wade or Griswold v. Connecticut – which was a 1965 decision by the Supreme Court striking down a law banning birth control, even for married couples in Connecticut – the Supreme Court said that the due process liberty clause include a right to privacy, over intimate decision making.
‘So the point is that Justice Alito’s decision would also apply, presumably, to the right to privacy in contraception,’ he continued. ‘If Casey is to fall, if Roe v. Wade is to fall, then Griswold v. Connecticut presumably is to follow as well because the word ‘contraception’ or ‘birth control’ doesn’t appear in the Constitution [either].
‘So this would appear to be an invitation to have Handmaid’s Tale-type anti-feminist regulation and legislation all over the country,’ Raskin concluded.
Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin compared a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade to The Handmaid’s Tale on Monday night
He explained in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, left, that the decision could also jeopardize access to birth control
Raskin was referencing a Margaret Atwood novel – which later inspired a television show – in which women are forced by the state to give birth
The Supreme Court’s draft decision has shaken the Supreme Court to its core, with barricades posted around the building shortly after the report was posted online.
The highly-respected SCOTUSblog, which covers the court in-depth, noted: ‘The document leaked to Politico is almost certainly an authentic draft opinion by J. Alito that reflects what he believes at least 5 members of the Court have voted to support — overruling Roe. But as Alito’s draft, it does not reflect the comments or reactions of other Justices.’
‘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 tweeted.
Other observers called it a crisis for Roberts’ tenure as chief justice.
‘The article represents the greatest crisis that Chief Justice John Roberts has faced in his tenure on the Court,’ wrote legal scholar Jonathan Turley.
Turley also pointed out the leak happened to put pressure on the court to change its ruling before it’s publicly announced.
‘The most likely motivation is obviously to pressure the Court and push the legislation in Congress on a federal abortion law before the midterm elections. It will also likely renew the call for court packing,’ he added.
And Democratic campaign strategist Brian Fallon tweeted: ‘Is a brave clerk taking this unprecedented step of leaking a draft opinion to warn the country what’s coming in a last-ditch Hail Mary attempt to see if the public response might cause the Court to reconsider?’
Such a ruling would immediately become an issue in the 2022 midterm election where Democrats are struggling to keep control of Congress.
Abortion would also become a major political issue in governors’ races with states being given the right to determine whether or not to allow the procedure.
Roe v. Wade: Which US states could make abortion illegal if landmark 1973 law is overturned… and what would it mean for women in America? Vital Q&A on looming Supreme Court decision
The Supreme Court is poised to strike down the right to abortion in the United States, according to a bombshell leaked draft of a majority opinion that suggests it may be poised to overturn the famous Roe v. Wade ruling.
The 98-page draft revealed by Politico calls the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision – which held that access to abortion in the US is a constitutional right – ‘egregiously wrong from the start’.
Abortion rights have been under threat in recent months as Republican-led states move to tighten rules – with some seeking to ban all abortions after six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant.
These include Arizona, where the Republican Governor in March signed a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy; and Idaho where the governor signed a six-week abortion ban that allows family members of the foetus to sue providers who perform abortions past that point, similar to a Texas law enacted last year.
The draft was written by Justice Samuel Alito and has been circulating inside the conservative-dominated court since February. The leak of a draft opinion while a case is still pending is an extraordinary breach.
The court is expected to rule on the case before its term is up in late June or early July. Here, DailyMail.com looks at what the latest developments mean – and the history of abortion laws in the US:
WHAT IS ROE V. WADE?
The Roe v. Wade decision nearly 50 years ago recognised that the right to personal privacy under the US Constitution protects a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy.
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court decided that the constitutional right to privacy applied to abortion.
Roe was ‘Jane Roe,’ a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey, a single mother pregnant for the third time, who wanted an abortion.
She sued the Dallas attorney general Henry Wade over a Texas law that made it a crime to terminate a pregnancy except in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life was in danger.
Roe’s lawyers said she was unable to travel out of the state to obtain an abortion and argued that the law was too vague and infringed on her constitutional rights.
Filing a complaint alongside her was Texas doctor James Hallford, who argued the law’s medical provision was vague, and that he was unable to reliably determine which of his patients fell into the allowed category.
The ‘Does’, another couple who were childless, also filed a companion complaint, saying that medical risks made it unsafe but not life-threatening for the wife to carry a pregnancy to term, and arguing they should be able to obtain a safe, legal abortion should she become pregnant.
The trio of complaints – from a woman who wanted an abortion, a doctor who wanted to perform them and a non-pregnant woman who wanted the right if the need arose – ultimately reached the nation’s top court.
The court heard arguments twice, and then waited until after Republican president Richard Nixon’s re-election, in November 1972.
Only the following January did it offer its historic seven-to-two decision – overturning the Texas laws and setting a legal precedent that has had ramifications in all 50 states.
WHAT HAS THE SUPREME COURT DECIDED NOW?
The Supreme Court has not decided anything yet, but a draft opinion reportedly circulated among court justices suggests that it may be poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
A document labelled ‘Opinion of the Court’ shows a majority of the court’s justices earlier this year threw support behind overturning the 1973 case that legalised abortion across the country.
According to Politico – who published the ‘leaked document’ – the draft opinion shows the court voted to strike down the landmark case. However, it is unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter.
The paper was labelled ‘1st Draft’ of the ‘Opinion of the Court’ and was said to be referring to a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks – a case known as Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation.
The Supreme Court has yet to issue a ruling in the case, and opinions – and even justices’ votes – have been known to change during the drafting process.
The court is expected to rule on the case before its term is up in late June or early July.
The draft is signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, who was appointed by former President George W Bush.
‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,’ the draft opinion states.
It in effect states there is no constitutional right to abortion services and would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or outright ban the procedure.
HAVE THERE BEEN OTHER RULINGS SINCE 1973?
On the same day as the Roe v. Wade decision, the justices also ruled in the separate ‘Doe v. Bolton’ case, which authorised each state to add restrictions to abortion rights for later-term pregnancies.
The constitutional right to abortion was later confirmed in a number of decisions, including ‘Webster v. Reproductive Health Services’ in 1989 and ‘Planned Parenthood v. Casey’ in 1992.
In the latter, the court guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion until the foetus is viable outside the womb, which is typically around 22 to 24 weeks of gestation.
The Planned Parenthood v Casey ruling also affirmed Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortion services, but allowed states to place some constraints on the practice.
WHICH STATES COULD MAKE ABORTION ILLEGAL IF ROE V. WADE IS OVERTURNED?
If Roe is overturned, abortion is likely to remain legal in liberal states. More than a dozen states currently have laws protecting abortion rights.
Numerous Republican-led states have passed various abortion restrictions in defiance of the Roe precedent in recent years.
Republicans could try to enact a nationwide abortion ban, while Democrats could also seek to protect abortion rights at the national level.
Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the pro-abortion rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute.
Of those, 22 states already have total or near-total bans on the books that are currently blocked by Roe, aside from Texas.=
The state’s law banning it after six weeks has already been allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court due to its unusual civil enforcement structure. Four more states are considered likely to quickly pass bans if Roe is overturned.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, have protected access to abortion in state law.
This year, anticipating a decision overturning or gutting Roe, eight conservative states have already moved to restrict abortion rights.
Oklahoma, for example, passed several bills in recent weeks, including one that goes into effect this summer making it a felony to perform an abortion.
CAN WOMEN GET AN ABORTION IN A DIFFERENT STATE?
Yes – the variation in abortion laws around America already means that some women have to travel to a different state to access a procedure.
For example in Texas – which has passed a law banning almost all abortions in the state – an average of 1,400 women from the state travelling each month between September and December 2021 and sought out procedures at 34 facilities in other states such as Louisiana and Kansas.
Research by the University of Texas established that more than a quarter of Texans seeking an abortion (27 per cent) went to obtain the procedure in New Mexico, a state which has seven facilities.
WHAT WOULD ROE V. WADE BEING OVERTURNED MEAN FOR WOMEN?
Abortion would not become illegal everywhere in the US if Roe v. Wade is overturned, with individual states still able to choose whether and when they would be permitted.
As it stands, abortion is legal in every state – but with varying restrictions.
Abortion would likely become illegal in about half of the states in the US if the ruling is overturned – with 24 states expected to ban abortion if they are able to do so.
These are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Roe v. Wade: The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America
Norma McCorvey, known as ‘Jane Roe’, is pictured in January 1983. A decade earlier she had won a landmark abortion case – but the baby she wished to abort, Shelley Lynn Thornton, was born before the case concluded
The original Roe v. Wade case was filed in 1971 by Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old living in Texas who was unmarried and seeking a termination of her unwanted pregnancy.
She married at the age of 16, but separated shortly after while she was pregnant. She gave custody of her daughter to her mother.
She gave a second child up for adoption, but when she got pregnant a third time she decided to have an abortion.
She said she couldn’t afford to travel to one of the handful of states where it would have been legal.
Because of state legislation preventing abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk, she was unable to undergo the procedure in a safe and legal environment.
So McCorvey sued Henry Wade, the Dallas county district attorney, in 1970. The case went on to the Supreme Court, under the filing Roe vs Wade, to protect McCorvey’s privacy.
Sarah Weddington and a former classmate, Linda Coffee, brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a pregnant woman challenging a state law that largely banned abortions.
She had been among only five women out of a class of 1,600 to graduate with a law degree from the University of Texas in 1967.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade. The landmark ruling legalized abortion nationwide but divided public opinion and has been under attack ever since.
The landmark ruling saw abortions decriminalized in 46 states, but under certain specific conditions which individual states could decide on. For example, states could decide whether abortions were allowed only during the first and second trimester but not the third (typically beyond 28 weeks).
Among pro-choice campaigners, the decision was hailed as a victory which would mean fewer women would become seriously – or even fatally – ill from abortions carried out by unqualified or unlicensed practitioners. Moreover, the freedom of choice was considered a significant step in the equality fight for women in the country. Victims of rape or incest would be able to have the pregnancy terminated and not feel coerced into motherhood.
However, pro-lifers contended it was tantamount to murder and that every life, no matter how it was conceived, is precious. Though the decision has never been overturned, anti-abortionists have prompted hundreds of states laws since then narrowing the scope of the ruling.