A Supreme Court draft opinion on the upcoming case pertaining to Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that expanded access to abortion nationwide, leaked on Monday night ― and sent shockwaves through the internet.
Pro-choice groups, abortion opponents and lawmakers reacted to the draft majority opinion Politico published, which reveals the 6-3 conservative-majority high court is poised to strike down Roe. Justice Samuel Alito authored the draft opinion.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote in the draft, according to Politico. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. ... It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Democrats and Republicans reacted to the news on Twitter, mostly falling along party lines on their views to protect or ban abortion access.
“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,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton described the draft as “outrageous.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responded to the leaked draft opinion in a statement Tuesday morning.
“Last night’s stunning breach was an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court,” he said. “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.”
“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,” McConnell added. However, it’s unclear if leaking a draft of a Supreme Court opinion is actually a crime.
The court’s official ruling is not expected until June. The current opinion is just a draft, and justices can change their votes any point. But a leaked opinion before publicly announcing a decision is unprecedented, and will likely have a ripple effect on the next steps for both abortion opponents and pro-choice groups.
The Supreme Court’s public information officer said the court had “no comment” on the leaked draft opinion.
In a tearful video posted to Twitter, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told her followers: “This is a great victory for God and the unborn who have been innocently slain for years.”
Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, had some strong words in response to the leaked draft.
“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,” Hicks said in a statement Monday night.
“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,” she said. “Make no mistake about it, the plan has always been to ban and criminalize abortion ever since 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided.”
“This is the nightmare scenario we in the reproductive health, rights, and justice space have been sounding the alarm about.”
Kimberlyn Schwartz, the director of media and communications at Texas Right to Life, celebrated the draft opinion in a statement to HuffPost.
“We are encouraged by the categorical boldness of the draft that corrects the erroneous precedent of Roe,” she said. “We prayerfully anticipate the complete reversal of Roe, giving authority to protect preborn children back to the states. However, the outcome is not final. … Pro-Life advocates must continue to pray, especially for the justices’ fortitude, until the court officially issues a decision.”
The case threatening to overturn Roe is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which centers on a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks. The law, which was debated in front of the Supreme Court in December, directly contradicts Roe. The 1973 Supreme Court decision established a constitutional right to access abortion until a fetus becomes viable at around 24 weeks.
Prior to the leak, experts saw a few potential outcomes in the Dobbs case. The Supreme Court could strike down the law, which would mean Roe would remain intact. However, most agreed after oral arguments in December that the court’s conservative majority signaled it would likely uphold the law by either banning abortion outright or tinkering with the viability line. Either of those options would effectively overturn Roe — setting off a nationwide battle in which some states outlaw abortion and others would go to great lengths to protect it.
The court’s decision will not be final until June, so these outcomes are still possible. However, the 98-page draft authored by Alito is a strong sign of which way the court is leaning.
Scroll below to see more reactions from lawmakers.