WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – A draft opinion suggests the US Supreme Court may be ready to overturn the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade case, which legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report. Released on Monday.
The decision to end the row would ban abortion in nearly half of the states and could have huge implications for this year’s elections. But it’s not clear whether the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter – opinions often change in ways big and small in the drafting process.
Whatever the outcome, the Politico report represents an extremely rare violation of the court’s secret deliberation process and a matter of utmost importance.
“Roe was seriously wrong from the start,” the draft opinion said. It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, who was appointed by former President George W.
The document was labeled the “first draft” of a “court’s opinion” in a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks, a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The court is expected to rule on the matter before its term ends in late June or early July.
The draft opinion, in effect, states that abortion services have no constitutional right and would allow individual states to more broadly regulate or outright restrict the procedure.
“We believe that Roe and Casey should be dismissed,” it refers to the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe’s pursuit of a constitutional right to abortion services but gave states some constraints on the practice. allowed to keep. “It is time to pay attention to the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people.”
A Supreme Court spokeswoman said the court did not comment and the Associated Press did not immediately confirm the authenticity of the draft posted by Politico, which is from February.
Politico said only that it “received a copy of the draft opinion, along with other details supporting the document’s authenticity, from a person familiar with court proceedings in the Mississippi case.”
The draft opinion strongly suggests that when the judges met in private shortly after the case was debated on December 1, at least five voted to dismiss Roe and Casey, and Alito was given the court’s majority opinion. was assigned the task of writing.
Votes and opinions on a case are not final until the decision is announced or, as changed by the coronavirus pandemic, posted on the Court’s website.
The report comes amid a legislative push to ban abortion in several Republican-led states — Oklahoma being the most recent — before the court issues its ruling. Critics of those measures have said that low-income women will disproportionately bear the burden of the new restrictions.
The leak sparked off the intense political resonance that the High Court’s final decision was expected to have in the mid-term election year. Already, politicians on both sides of the aisle were capturing reports for fundraising and activating their supporters on either side of the hot-button issue.
An Associated Press-NORC survey December found that Democrats increasingly see protecting abortion rights as a high priority for the government.
Other polling shows relatively few Americans want to see Roe turn. In 2020, Associated Press VoteCast found that 69% of voters in the presidential election said the Supreme Court should leave the Roe v. Wade ruling as is; Only 29 per cent said that the court should overturn the decision. In general, Associated Press-NORC polling finds that the majority of the public is in favor of legalizing abortion in most or all cases.
Still, when asked about abortion policy in general, Americans tend to take a nuanced view of the issue, and many do not think that abortion should be possible after the first trimester or that women should be treated for any reason. Must be able to obtain a legal abortion.
Alito said in the draft that the court could not predict how the public might react and should not try. According to Politico, Alito wrote in the draft opinion, “We cannot allow our decisions to be influenced by any outside influence such as concerns about the public’s reaction to our work.”
After the release of the Politico report, people from both sides of the issue quickly gathered outside the Supreme Court, waving signs and shouting slogans on a quiet spring night.
The reaction from Congress and elected officials across the country was swift.
In a joint statement by the top two Democrats in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “If the report is true, the Supreme Court is set to impose the biggest restriction of rights in the last fifty years — not Not just on women but on all Americans.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, also a Democrat, said people seeking abortions could move to New York. “Whoever is in need of care, our state will welcome you with open arms. Abortion in New York will always be safe and accessible,” Hochul said in a tweet.
“We will let the Supreme Court speak for itself and await the court’s official opinion,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a statement. But local officials were praising the draft.
Mississippi State Representative Becky Curry said, “It puts decision-making back in the hands of the states, where it always should have been.”
Congress could also take action, though a bill that would write Rowe’s protections into federal law was stalled in the Senate last year after passing the House with only Democratic votes.
In Supreme Court arguments in December, all six conservative justices indicated they would uphold the Mississippi law, and five asked questions that suggested dismissing Roe and Casey was a possibility.
Only Chief Justice John Roberts seemed willing to take the small step of upholding the 15-week ban, although that would also be a significant dilution of abortion rights.
So far, the court has allowed states to regulate but not prohibit abortion before the point of viability around 24 weeks.
The three liberal justices of the court were likely to disagree.
It is impossible to know what is going on behind the scenes to influence the vote of justice. If Roberts is inclined to allow Roe to survive, she only needs to take another conservative vote to deny the court a majority to overturn the abortion landmark.
According to the Guttmacher Institute’s pro-abortion think tank, if Roe v. Wade is reversed, twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion. Of those, 22 states already have complete or almost complete bans on books that are currently blocked by Roe, in addition to Texas. A state law banning it after six weeks has already been allowed by the Supreme Court to come into force because of its unusual civil enforcement framework. It is believed that four more states are likely to be banned soon if the row is reversed.
Meanwhile, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have protected access to abortion in state law.
This year, anticipating a decision to reverse or destroy the row, eight conservative states have already moved to restrict abortion rights. For example, Oklahoma has passed several bills in recent weeks, including a bill that went into effect this summer making abortion a felony. Like many anti-abortion bills passed in GOP-led states this year, there are no exceptions to rape or incest, only to save the mother’s life.
Eight Democratic-leaning states have protected or expanded access to the procedure, including California, which passed a law making the procedure less expensive and others to make itself an “abortion sanctuary” if Roe is reversed. Considering bills.
The draft seemed legitimate to some adherents of the court. Veteran Supreme Court lawyer Neil Katyal, who served as clerk to Justice Stephen Breuer and was therefore in a position to watch the draft, wrote on Twitter: “There are plenty of indications that the opinion is valid. The length and depth of analysis will be very difficult to fake. It says it is written by Alito and definitely sounds like him. ,
Associated Press writers Jessica Gresco in Washington and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.