A leaked draft majority opinion indicates that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the foundational 1973 decision legalizing the right to abortion in the United States, according to a report published by Politico on Monday evening.
The document circulated by Politico is supported by five conservative justices, the outlet reported, citing a person familiar with the inner workings of the court. Only Chief Justice John Roberts hasn’t yet indicated which way he will vote.
The draft is not yet 100 percent final, and could still be subject to last-minute vote changes right up until the decision is published about two months from now. Yet in its current form, and with its current majority support within the high court, the draft document appears to signal the end of federal protection for abortion, which has existed for almost half a century in the United States.
The draft opinion, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, blasts the original 1973 Roe decision that legalized abortion in strident, unwavering language.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito wrote in the document entitled “Opinion of the Court.”
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito continued. “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.”
The leak of an unpublished Supreme Court decision appears to be unprecedented in modern times, and will likely exacerbate existing tensions over the politicization of the court.
As of Monday evening, it was not clear who might have leaked the draft decision, or why.
In his draft, Alito noted the court is taking aim directly at abortion and not other precedents.
“We emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” Alito wrote, according to the draft. “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”
Alito also pushed back against the idea that tossing out protections for abortion protections might reflect the subjugation of women, and he emphasized that women represent a large voting bloc.
“Women are not without electoral or political power,” Alito wrote. “The percentage of women who register to vote and cast ballots is consistently higher than the percentage of men who do so.”