Update: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the leak of the draft opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to Politico, based upon a draft majority opinion the outlet has obtained.
Politico reports that the initial draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization written by Justice Samuel Alito is "a full-throated, unflinching repudiation" of both the landmark 1973 Roe ruling and the subsequent 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision.
The document leaked to Politico caused controversy Monday night over the breach of trust within the Court and the potential it would poison the Court's final decision.
It’s impossible to overstate the earthquake this will cause inside the Court, in terms of the destruction of trust among the Justices and staff. This leak is the gravest, most unforgivable sin.— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) May 3, 2022
The initial draft majority opinion for Dobbs was circulated among the justices Feb. 10, the report said. The draft is 98 pages long, including a 31-page appendix of historical state abortion laws, and has citations of previous court decisions, books and other authorities, along with 118 footnotes. The appearance and timing of the draft are consistent with court practice, Politico said.
Roe v. Wade established a right to abortion throughout pregnancy in the U.S. and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is purported to have upheld the Roe decision, though it put an end to Roe’s reasoning and the standard of review, the method the Court uses to determine whether an abortion-related law is constitutional.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," the Dobbs draft opinion states. "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.”
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," Alito writes in the document. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Politico is reporting that after hearing the oral arguments in Dobbs in December, Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett had voted with Alito in a conference the justices held, with Chief Justice John Roberts undecided. That roster was unchanged as of this week, the report said.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are working on one or more dissents.
Tweet This: Politico reports that SCOTUS has voted to end Roe v. Wade, based on a leaked initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito
States would be able to enact restrictions on abortion currently not permitted under Roe based on the framework laid out by Alito in the document labeled, “Opinion of the Court.”
The Dobbs case concerns the state of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, banning most abortions at 15 weeks with some exceptions, and in particular the constitutionality of all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions.
Dobbs has been closely watched and highly anticipated as the most important case for life in a generation for its potential to upend Roe.
Heartbeat International was among the pro-life organizations to file an amicus brief in the case, arguing that women are strong, capable, and do not need abortion to take part in society. Heartbeat, the largest network of pregnancy help organizations in the U.S. and globally, argued as well that that Roe and Casey should be overturned because the prevalence of pregnancy help organizations has made the legal precedent of the cases moot.
“The truth is, women are strong and capable of both achieving their educational and career goals and becoming excellent mothers,” Heartbeat General Counsel Danielle M. White said at the time. “Every day across the nation, pregnancy help organizations educate, equip, and empower women to see this truth realized in their own lives.”
Additionally, both decisions hold that the Constitution protects a right to abortion before an unborn child becomes viable. Fetal viability, which is the ability of the child to survive outside the womb with medical support, was previously understood to be 24 or more weeks, but it has become earlier in pregnancy with technological advancements. Pro-life advocates view the fetal viability standard as greatly subjective and preferential toward the abortion industry.
In its report on the leaked document, Politico said deliberations on controversial cases like Dobbs have been changeable in the past. The justices can and sometimes will change their votes as draft opinions circulate and major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote-trading, at times up until the final days before a decision is released. The Court’s ruling will not be final until it is published, originally expected in June.
SCOTUSblog commented on Twitter on the validity of the initial draft opinion.
"The document leaked to Politico is almost certainly an authentic draft opinion by J. Alito that reflects what he believes at least 5 members of the Court have voted to support — overruling Roe," the legal news and analysis blog stated. "But as Alito’s draft, it does not reflect the comments or reactions of other Justices."
Politico said the document leak was "a rare breach of Supreme Court secrecy and tradition around its deliberations."
SCOTUSblog said, "It’s impossible to overstate the earthquake this will cause inside the Court, in terms of the destruction of trust among the Justices and staff. This leak is the gravest, most unforgivable sin."
Some groups reacted to the news, while others held comment on the draft document.
"Regarding the SCOTUS leak on Dobbs, SBA List will not be commenting until an official decision is announced by the Court," SBA List said.
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini followed suit, saying, "Friends, @March_for_Life will not be providing comment on an official decision of #scotus possible leak until a decision is officially announced."
Mancini stated further, "We also believe that given the leak the court should issue a ruling as soon as possible. This leak was meant to corrupt the process. It is heartbreaking that some abortion advocates will stoop to any level to intimidate the court no matter what the consequences."
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who appealed to the Supreme Court in the Dobbs case, issued the following statement Monday evening:
“We will let the Supreme Court speak for itself and wait for the Court’s official opinion.”
Editor's note: This story is developing and may be updated. Pregnancy Help News will provide continued coverage. PHN is managed by Heartbeat International.