Supreme Court Leak: Draft to overturn Roe V. Wade

Supreme Court Leak: Draft to overturn Roe V. Wade

Naomi Engle, staff writer

The Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade according to a majority draft leaked to Politico Monday night.  One of the most well-known cases in court history, it protects abortion as a constitutional right, and its overturning would allow elected representatives to decide its legality in individual states. The draft, part of which was posted on Politico and confirmed by the Supreme Court the next morning, says that Roe was “egregiously wrong” from the start.  “We can only do our job, which is to interpret the law, apply longstanding principles of stare decisis, and decide this case accordingly,” the draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito, states, before adding that Roe did not settle the abortion issue but only intensified debate surrounding it, thus causing more harm.

Both Democrats and Republicans are up in arms about the overruling, but for different reasons.  Democrats are overwhelmingly pro-choice and have supported Roe for years.  President Biden has already released a statement urging Congress to codify abortion and protect it, which some Democratic representatives are already working on.  Governor Newsom of California has announced plans to write abortion into the state constitution, protecting it under law.  Other liberal-leaning states will likely follow. Conservatives have focused more on the leak itself rather than its substance.  Though it has happened before, it’s quite rare for a decision to leak while still being drafted, especially in the Court.  Not only will it intensify debate over an already-controversial article, but it betrays the ethics that the Supreme Court have upheld as a sacred institution for years.  “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 Chief Justice John Roberts Tuesday morning after announcing an investigation into the leak.  

For many Americans, this has been a wake up call to take to the streets and protest.  With the alarming number of anti-abortion bills circulating in conservative states, an attack against Roe v. Wade was expected, but not so soon.  The Des Moines Register spoke to Jalesha Johnson of the Black Liberation Movement, who was at the protests on Tuesday to raise awareness for the disproportionate number of black women who will be affected by the draft.  “We have a right to choose.  We are going to show them that every step of the way, we will be resisting–even when they are building against us,” Johnson said. Thirteen states have already passed trigger laws to ban abortion, which would go into effect immediately after Roe’s overturning.  Additional laws could rule abortions illegal even in the case of rape or incest.  A law currently in the proposal stage in Texas would make women who get abortions eligible for jail time or even the death penalty.  

As of now, while the draft is confirmed, it is not completely revised (the leak was from a document drafted in February), nor is it guaranteed to pass. Court watchers have speculated that Justice Roberts is looking for a potential compromise draft that would keep Roe but severely limit women’s autonomy over their body.  But if the draft does pass, it would be one of the most significant court rulings of the decade and have irreparable consequences on women’s health as well as the nation.