Report: Draft opinion reveals SCOTUS poised to overturn Roe v. Wade

In a jaw-dropping bombshell Monday night, Politico published what was reported to be an initial draft majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court in a closely-watched case out of Mississippi which, if it holds, would see the panel say goodbye to the landmark abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade once and allow states to decide for themselves what, if any, restrictions should be in place.

“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 document states, also referencing the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 case that had the effect of reaffirming Roe.

The draft unflinchingly declared, “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.”

As Fox News noted, the leaked draft opinion was authored by Justice Samuel Alito back in February, and it remained unclear whether it has since been revised, or whether any of his colleagues have changed their position on the outcome in the interim, as does sometimes occur during the circulation of drafts among members of the court.

Nearly as newsworthy as the draft opinion itself, according to many court watchers and pundits, was the fact that it was leaked well in advance of the conclusion of the court’s current term, which was when a ruling was previously anticipated, with many describing the scenario as an shocking breach of ethics.

Longtime Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz – himself an opponent of any move to overturn Roe – hypothesized that the draft “was leaked by a liberal law clerk who is trying to change the outcome of the case – either by putting pressure on some justices to change their mind or by getting Congress to pack the court even before June, which is very unlikely,” as Fox News noted.

Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee seemed to agree that the leak likely came from inside the high court, and called the situation “dangerous, despicable, and damaging” and added, “[t]hat person needs to be brought to justice and held to account to what they did. This is the first and what I predict will be a series of other attempts to delegitimize the Supreme Court of the United States in the coming months.”

As NPR noted, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed on Tuesday that the draft opinion published by Politico was indeed authentic, but noted that it is not necessarily indicative of the final outcome in the matter. “To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed.”

The unsettling circumstances in which the news for which millions of conservatives have long waited are worrying, to be sure, but they do offer real cause for optimism that at last, the extremely messy jurisprudence that produced Roe will be make its way to the ash heap of history, and the matter of abortion will rightly return to the American people and those they elect to represent them.