Supreme Court confirms authenticity of leaked Roe v. Wade draft opinion

supreme court
'Although the document described in yesterday's report is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member...'

The Supreme Court has confirmed the authenticity of a draft majority opinion POLITICO published Monday in which Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Roe v. Wade, the benchmark decision protecting women’s reproductive rights, was “egregiously wrong” and “must be overruled.”

That leaked document, which sent shockwaves through America’s political landscape, is indeed real, according to a newly released statement from the court that included comments from Chief Justice John Roberts, who called its release “a betrayal of the confidences of the Court” that is now under investigation.

SCOTUSblog, which focuses on the Supreme Court, shared the statement online; its writers include lawyers, law professors and students.

“Yesterday, a news organization published a copy of a draft opinion in a pending case. Justices circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work. Although the document described in yesterday’s report is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case,” the statement read.

Roberts wrote: “To the extent this betrayal of the confidence of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.

“We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce — permanent employees and law clerks alike — intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court. This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.

“I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”

The now-confirmed leak will almost assuredly have a sizable impact on the 2022 midterm elections.

The court’s statement did not address POLITICO’s reporting that someone “familiar with the court’s deliberations” said four other Republican-appointed justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — had voted with Alito to strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and a subsequent 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that maintained abortion rights.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — all Democratic-appointed — are reportedly at work on one or more dissents. Roberts’ position on the matter, meanwhile, is yet unclear.

Alito’s draft opinion is the product of the court’s proceedings in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which centers on a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

That law and others like it, including nearly identical legislation Gov. Ron DeSantis signed April 14, are direct threats to Roe v. Wade, which established safeguards for women’s reproductive freedom, and to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which protected a woman’s right to an abortion until fetal viability at roughly 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

Justices have been deliberating over the Mississippi case since December and were expected to render an official decision in the next two months.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • PeterH

    May 3, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    In today’s America a young woman has less control over her reproductive rights, privacy and her body than her mother. The Republicans on the Supreme Court DO NOT BELIEVE THE 14th AMENDMENT ENSURES DOCTOR – PATIENT PRIVACY. The Republicans on the Supreme Court believe that YOU do not have a right to privacy. Contrary to their prior statements, Republicans on the Supreme Court DO NOT BELIEVE IN COURT PRECEDENT.

    This ruling guts privacy and has future ramifications on marriage equality, pandemic health issues and government intrusion into your home or business.

    It is imperative that each and every American….young and old ….. register to vote, verify their registration to vote, and show up at EVERY ELECTION……not just the presidential election. Understand the ramifications of your vote.

    Presidents select Supreme Court Justices ….. and Republican appointed justices simply don’t agree with Thomas Jefferson’s assertion that the Constitution should be interpreted as a “living and breathing document!”

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