Roe v. Wade: leaked documents suggest the Supreme Court could overturn abortion laws

Written by Amy Beecham

Leaked Supreme Court documents appear to show justices poised to overturn the historic Roe v. Wade ruling and make abortion illegal across America.

The US supreme court has provisionally voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalised abortion nationwide in America, according to a leaked draft opinion.

US journalPolitico said on Monday evening it had obtained an initial majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in the court on 10 February.

The draft repealsdown Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that enshrined the constitutional right to abortion, and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely upheld that right.

Politico quoted Alito as saying: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

The justice adds: “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.”

The leak is the first time in modern history that the public has seen a Supreme Court draft decision while a case was still pending.

According to the document, four of the other Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – voted with Alito in the conference held among the justices.

However, as The Guardian explains, after an initial vote among the justices following the oral argument, one is assigned the majority opinion and writes a draft. It is then circulated among the justices. At times, in between the initial vote and the ruling being released, the vote alignment can change. A ruling is only final when it is published by the court.

Campaigners have long been concerned that Roe v. Wade would be overturned as several Republican-led states have already passed highly restrictive abortion laws.

Videos showed protests forming outside the Supreme Court building in Washington DC, with journalist for the Washington Examiner Cami Mondeaux sharing an image of barricades going up up around the Supreme Court building in Washington DC “just minutes after reports from Politico were leaked indicating SCOTUS has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.” 

Following the reports, people have been speaking out on social media, with some highlighting the timing clash with the 2022 Met Gala.

“The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade while the whole country is distracted by an inconsequential event celebrating extreme wealth is, unfortunately, the most symbolic representation of America rn,” wrote podcaster Julia Hava.

“Not surprising. But still outrageous,” Hillary Clinton, who also attended the Gala, wrote in a tweet. “This decision is a direct assault on the dignity, rights and lives of women, not to mention decades of settled law.”

“It will kill and subjugate women even as a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal,” she added. “What an utter disgrace.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote: “An extremist Supreme Court is poised to overturn #RoeVWade and impose its far-right, unpopular views on the entire country. It’s time for the millions who support the Constitution and abortion rights to stand up and make their voices heard. We’re not going back—not ever.”

“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 Senator Bernie Sanders.

However, as political analyst The Palmer Report emphasised: “the draft memo obtained by Politico does not mean the Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade. It means the court intends to strike it down when the decision comes down in a couple months.

“We now need massive protests to pressure the court not to go through with this travesty,” it added.

“As an abortion rights activist here in TX I can tell you nation wide we’ve been preparing for Roe V Wade to fall. We knew this was coming and we are prepared to fight for bodily autonomy. Do not give up. Please keep fighting with us,” added activist Olivia Julianna.

“The precedent this will set is that precedent does not matter. Every. Single. Ruling. Can. Be. Attacked.”

Images: Getty

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