Supreme Court Leaked Documents Show A Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade


Lorie Shaull

Norma McCorvey, left, who was Jane Roe in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, with her attorney, Gloria Allred, outside the Supreme Court in April 1989, where the Court heard arguments in a case that could have overturned the Roe v. Wade decision. Image via. Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court has voted to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling which legalized abortion nationwide nearly 50 years ago. After it was confirmed by Chief Justice John Roberts that the leaked draft overturning the constitutional right to abortion was authentic, the decision was disapproved by many leading Democrats in the state. 

Roe v. Wade (1973) is said by many to be a “landmark decision” of the U.S. Supreme Court. With this decision, it was ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. 

Since its ruling, the decision has prompted many debates in the US about whether or to what extent abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, and what the role of moral and religious views in the political sphere should be. These debates continue to this day and are seen through the variety of reactions expressed with recent developments of the Roe v. Wade ruling. 

The leaked document, a 98-page opinion draft written in February was labeled the opinion of the court, which implies that a majority of justices had agreed with the opinions expressed in the document. The draft was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who was considered to be one of the most conservative justices on the Court opposing abortion and LGBTQ+ rights but supporting religious liberty and weapon rights.

In the document, Alito writes that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. … It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” 

The immediate impacts of the ruling would be the end of constitutionally protected abortion rights and the ability for each state to decide their stance on abortion whether it be to restrict or ban it. The overturning of Roe would lead to stricter abortion bans in the South and Midwest with about half of the states set to immediately impose broad abortion bans according to Politico

When it comes to controversial cases such as this, the court typically spends a long time carefully considering the rulings and justices occasionally change their votes because of many different contributing factors. Sometimes a final decision is not made until days before it is unveiled. The court’s decision will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months. 

In the modern history of the court, there has been no draft decision disclosed publicly while a case was still pending. As abortion is a matter already heavily debated, there’s no doubt that there will be many disputes surrounding the issue. Many have taken to social media to express their thoughts, one of these people being President Barack Obama. 

In his tweet posted on May 3, 2022, President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, voiced their thoughts on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. President Obama seems to be against this decision as he said in his statement, “The consequences of this decision would be a blow not just to women, but to all of us who believe that in a free society, there are limits to how much the government can encroach on our personal lives.” 

In response to his tweet, many others have replied saying they agree with his statement building off the idea that even when legal abortion is banned, women who find themselves in a situation where abortion is needed will go on with the procedure no matter the instance. 

Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton also took to the platform, posting a tweet saying, “Not surprising. But still outrageous.” She continued by saying, “this decision is a direct assault on the dignity, rights, & lives of women, not to mention decades of settled law. It will kill and subjugate women even as a vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal.” To end her tweet she added, “What an utter disgrace.”

Those who aren’t a part of the government have also begun to share their experiences with abortion on social media, such as Phoebe Bridgers, American Singer-songwriter who took to Twitter to reveal her abortion experience and link an article with ways to help.

President Biden also voiced his stance on the situation saying “It concerns me a great deal that we’re going to, after 50 years, decide a woman does not have a right to choose.”

He continued expressing that the issue at hand was not just about a future without Roe v. Wade but something that could open a door to more issues. The president said, “It would mean that every other decision relating to the notion of privacy is thrown into question. If what is written is what remains, it goes far beyond the concern of whether or not there is the right to choose. It goes to other basic rights … who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child or not, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions.” 

Although not every person is on the pro-abortion side. This is continued to be seen in the opinion draft written by Alito where he says that “The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.”

As seen in Politico, the draft includes a passage that argues that since the 1970s the increased demand for adoption makes abortion less necessary. 

The Supreme Court is thought to be one of Washington’s most secretive institutions. 

“At the Supreme Court, those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know” was something Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States said often. 

The justices held their final arguments of the current term on Wednesday and are set to have a series of sessions over the next two months to release rulings in its still unresolved cases.