Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Draft opinion – Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights

Politico: “The Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO. The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” Deliberations on controversial cases have in the past been fluid. Justices can and sometimes do change their votes as draft opinions circulate and major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote-trading, sometimes until just days before a decision is unveiled. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months. The immediate impact of the ruling as drafted in February would be to end a half-century guarantee of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights and allow each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. It’s unclear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft. No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending. The unprecedented revelation is bound to intensify the debate over what was already the most controversial case on the docket this term. The draft opinion offers an extraordinary window into the justices’ deliberations in one of the most consequential cases before the court in the last five decades. Some court-watchers predicted that the conservative majority would slice away at abortion rights without flatly overturning a 49-year-old precedent. The draft shows that the court is looking to reject Roe’s logic and legal protections….A person familiar with the court’s deliberations said that four of the other Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – had voted with Alito in the conference held among the justices after hearing oral arguments in December, and that line-up remains unchanged as of this week. The three Democratic-appointed justices – Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – are working on one or more dissents, according to the person. How Chief Justice John Roberts will ultimately vote, and whether he will join an already written opinion or draft his own, is unclear…”

  • See also The New York Times: “…The release of the 98-page document is unprecedented in modern times. In the court’s modern history, early drafts of opinions have never leaked before the final decision is announced. And early drafts of opinions often change by the time the decision from the court is announced. But if the justices announce a decision along the lines of the early, leaked draft, it would be a seismic change in American law and politics, coming just months before congressional midterm elections that will decide who controls power on Capitol Hill. Abortion has long split the two parties — and the country — though it had receded as a central issue in recent years. A court decision along the lines of the one in the early draft could spark new political battles in Congress and in states across the country about whether and how the procedure should be limited…”
  • See also the Washington Post: “The next frontier for the antiabortion movement: A nationwide ban. Advocates and some GOP lawmakers have started mobilizing around potential federal legislation to outlaw abortion after six weeks of pregnancy
  • See also Data for Progress – A Federal Ban on Abortion is Wildly Unpopular in All 50 States – “…new analysis finds there is not a single state in the nation where support for a federal ban on abortion has more than 30% support among the public.”
  • See also The New York Times – What Would the End of Roe Mean? Key Questions and Answers and Leak of Document Is Unprecedented in Court’s Modern History
  • See also The New York Times – What an America Without Roe Would Look Like – “Legal abortions would fall, particularly among poor women in the South and Midwest, and out-of-state travel and abortion pills would play a bigger role.”
  • Also see/listen WNYC – The Resurgence of the Abortion Underground

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.