The Supreme Court voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that has protected abortion rights for decades, according to a majority opinion drafted in February and obtained by Politico.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote in the draft opinion that “Roe was egregiously wrong” and that Roe and the 1992 case upholding it, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “must be overruled.” He concluded: “We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.”
The draft, which was published by Politico Monday night, says it was circulated among the members of the court on Feb. 10. Oral arguments in the case occurred in December, and the court is set to publish its final decision by the end of June, when the court recesses for the summer.
The decision, if it becomes the court’s final judgment, would be a bombshell in American politics, allowing states to enact broad abortion bans and potentially strip women of their right to terminate pregnancies, likely disproportionately impacting people of color and low-income people, and potentially setting off political battles over abortion in states across the country.
The decision would mean states governed abortion, meaning state legislatures could broadly ban or legally protect it.
Pennsylvania is such a battleground state, and has a U.S. Senate seat and the governor’s office on the ballot in this year’s midterm elections. The state currently bans abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy, except in life-threatening cases, with some restrictions, including parental consent for minors. New Jersey guarantees abortion access under a state law signed in March.
The publication of the opinion — which is labeled as a first draft and was leaked to Politico by “a person familiar with the court’s proceedings” — before the final decision has been announced is unprecedented in modern history. Though it could change, it set off immediate and deep shockwaves, drawing strong reactions from politicians, activists, and others.
Supreme Court justices can change their votes and make multiple drafts before a decision is announced. Until then, abortion remains constitutionally protected.
In a memo to staff about the story, Politico’s top editors said they “are confident of the authenticity of the draft,” CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported.
Citing a person familiar with the court, Politico reported that Republican-appointed Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett voted with Alito. Democratic-appointed Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented, and it was not clear how Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would vote, according to Politico.