Washington, May 3
The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade who legalized abortion nationwide, according to an early draft majority opinion leaked by Politico on Monday.
The unprecedented leak by the conservative-majority Supreme Court has sent shockwaves across the United States, not least because the court prides itself on keeping its internal deliberations secret and leaks are extremely rare.
Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the project. The Supreme Court and White House declined to comment.
“Roe got it badly wrong from the start,” conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the draft opinion dated Feb. 10, according to Politico, which posted a copy https://www.politico.com/f/ ?id=00000180-874f-dd36-a38c-c74f98520000 online.
Based on Alito’s opinion, the court would conclude that Roe v. Wade, which allowed abortions performed before a fetus was viable outside the womb – between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy – was wrongly decided because the US Constitution makes no specific mention of the right to abortion.
“Abortion poses a deep moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of every state from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” Alito said, according to the leaked document.
The news came just over six months before the midterm elections that will determine whether the Democrats hold their slim majority in the US Congress for the next two years of President Joe Biden’s term.
Abortion has been one of the most contentious issues in American politics for nearly half a century.
“This decision is a direct assault on the dignity, rights and lives of women, not to mention decades of established law,” said former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
“It will kill and subjugate women even though a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal. What a total shame.”
Republican Senator Tom Cotton said, “…Roe was gravely wrong all along and I pray the Court will uphold the Constitution and allow the states to once again protect unborn life.”
Four of the other Republican-appointed justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — voted with Alito during the conference held between the justices, the report added.
After a first vote among the judges following a pleading, one is assigned the majority opinion and drafts a draft. It is then circulated among the judges.
Sometimes, between the initial vote and the decision rendered, the alignment of the vote may change. A decision is not final until it is published by the court.
In a post on Twitter, Neal Katyal, a lawyer who regularly litigates in court, said if the report was accurate, it would be “the first major leak from the Supreme Court”. The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, heard oral arguments in December on Mississippi’s attempt to reinstate its ban on abortions from 15 weeks of pregnancy, a law blocked by lower courts.
It appeared based on oral argument in December that a majority was inclined to uphold Mississippi’s abortion ban and that there could be five votes to overthrow Roe.
The Roe v. Wade acknowledged that the right to privacy under the US Constitution protects a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy.
Christian conservatives and many elected Republicans have long sought to overthrow him.
The Supreme Court, in a 1992 decision titled Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, reaffirmed the right to abortion and banned laws imposing an “undue burden” on access to abortion.
Mississippi has asked judges to overturn both rulings, and Alito’s draft opinion broadly adopts the Republican state’s arguments.
If Roe is overturned, abortion will likely remain legal in liberal states. More than a dozen states currently have laws protecting the right to abortion. Many Republican-led states have passed various abortion restrictions in defiance of the Roe precedent in recent years.
Republicans could try to enact a national abortion ban, while Democrats could also seek to protect abortion rights nationally.
Democrats said the draft notice undermines the significance of this year’s election, in which they seek to retain control of the House and Senate.
“We need to vote like we never have before,” Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin told MSNBC. “The people must stand up and defend democratic institutions and the rights of the people because the Supreme Court is certainly not doing anything for us.” Republican Senator Josh Hawley said, without evidence, the leak likely came from a liberal inside the court.
“Judges must not give in to this attempt to corrupt the process. Stay strong,” he said in a Twitter post.