(WASHINGTON) — Politicians and organizations are reacting to an unprecedented leaked draft opinion suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide nearly 50 years ago.
While some conservatives were quick to praise the draft opinion, many liberals decried it and people on both sides criticized the extraordinary breach of the covert deliberation process of the nation’s highest court.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a joint statement late Monday, warning: “If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years — not just on women but on all Americans.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., however, had not commented as of Tuesday morning.
The 98-page document, obtained by Politico and published online Monday night, was dated Feb. 10, 2022, and labeled a “1st Draft” of the “Opinion of the Court” in a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks.
Politico said it 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.” ABC News has not independently confirmed the draft. A Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to comment.
The draft opinion, apparently written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., appears to show the court’s conservative majority voted to strike down the 1973 ruling on Roe v. Wade as well as a subsequent decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That 1992 case upheld Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortion services but allowed states to impose some restrictions on the controversial practice. The immediate impact of the ruling as drafted would be to end the federally guaranteed right to abortion and effectively allow each state to decide whether to restrict or outright ban it, according to Politico.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito appeared to write in the draft opinion.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he added. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
In the wake of the Politico report and the rare leak, elected officials from both sides of the aisle are speaking out.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., along with a number of congressional Democrats, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Patty Murray, D-Wash., as well as Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., all called for Congress to codify Roe v. Wade into law, even if that meant eliminating the filibuster.
If #SCOTUS is going to legislate from the bench and turn back the clock 50 years on #RoeVWade, then the Senate needs to pass my Women’s Health Protection Act, and if we need to eliminate the filibuster to get it done, we should do that too. #WHPA
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) May 3, 2022
We need to fight back with everything we’ve got right now. The right to abortion is on the line, and I’ll never stop fighting to protect it.
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) May 3, 2022
We must fight. We fight by passing the House-passed Women’s Health Protection Act in the Senate. We fight by getting rid of the filibuster. We can’t go back, we must fight. https://t.co/w1ysGzDrAh
— Rep. Peter Welch (@WelchForVT) May 3, 2022
Gubernatorial Democrats from California to Maine vowed to protect abortion rights in their respective states.
Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers will not be silenced.The world is about to hear their fury.California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell. https://t.co/EhwSWXiZhx
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 3, 2022
Hell no! In Illinois, we trust women. We cannot let their most profound and personal rights be violated. https://t.co/ksvR0vkgw1
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) May 3, 2022
I want to be very clear: unlike an apparent majority of the Supreme Court, I do not consider the rights of women to be dispensable. As long as I am Governor, I will fight with everything I have to protect reproductive rights and to preserve access to reproductive health care. https://t.co/RYSnxxJVb9
— Governor Janet Mills (@GovJanetMills) May 3, 2022
While the co-chairs of the House Pro-Life Caucus had not commented as of Tuesday morning, the leaders of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Co.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), released a joint statement, saying: “Such a move would be an unconscionable rollback of a fundamental right and would have devastating impacts throughout the country.”
Some Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), condemned the leak as an attempt to “intimidate” the court, while others, such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), hailed the draft opinion.
The Supreme Court’s confidential deliberation process is sacred & protects it from political interference. This breach shows that radical Democrats are working even harder to intimidate & undermine the Court. It was always their plan. The justices cannot be swayed by this attack. https://t.co/S5eMGO0dxd
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) May 3, 2022
The Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe—the most significant and glorious news of our lifetime. Join me in praying to God for the right outcome. Life begins at conception. Let’s protect it. pic.twitter.com/SNdb6WUBXO
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) May 3, 2022
If the reports are true about the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision, this is a major victory for the pro-life movement.My full statement⬇️https://t.co/QDcy5kyw9K
— Rep. Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyPA) May 3, 2022
Gubernatorial Republicans in Alabama, Arkansas and South Dakota expressed their hope that Roe v. Wade would in fact be overturned.
I have advocated for the reversal of Roe v. Wade all my political career. The leak from someone within the court is reprehensible and should lead to an investigation but I do hope the court returns authority to the states.
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) May 3, 2022
If this report is true and Roe v. Wade is overturned, I will immediately call for a special session to save lives and guarantee that every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota. https://t.co/oIiGibCP7B
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) May 3, 2022
Meanwhile, anti-abortion organizations March for Life and Susan B Anthony List are withholding comment until the final decision is announced; though the latter noted that it would “wholeheartedly applaud the decision” if the leaked draft opinion was the final opinion.
Friends, @March_for_Life will not be providing comment on an official decision of #scotus possible leak until a decision is officially announced.
— Jeanne F. Mancini (@jeannemfl) May 3, 2022
Regarding the SCOTUS leak on Dobbs, SBA List will not be commenting until an official decision is announced by the Court.
— Susan B. Anthony List #ModernizeOurLaw (@SBAList) May 3, 2022
Abortion-rights organizations Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America emphasized that the leaked draft opinion “is not final” and “abortion is still legal.”
Let’s be clear: This is a draft opinion. It’s outrageous, it’s unprecedented, but it is not final. Abortion is your right — and it is STILL LEGAL. https://t.co/s9R7w99n71
— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) May 3, 2022
The leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is not final. While this leak is unprecedented, it’s important to know that Roe still stands and abortion is still legal. But it’s clear that we need to fight harder than ever before.
— NARAL (@NARAL) May 3, 2022
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