May 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Leaked document shows Supreme Court prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade

Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Supreme Court is prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a leaked draft document first published by Politico.

Why it matters: Overturning Roe v. Wade would make abortion immediately illegal in at least 13 states, as Axios' Oriana Gonzalez has reported.

The big picture: "No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending," Politico's Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward reported.

  • Axios cannot verify the document, reportedly authored by Justice Samuel Alito in February. Politico reported that Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voted with Alito.
  • “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” the draft states.
  • "We can only do our job, which is to interpret the law, apply longstanding principles of stare decisis, and decide this case accordingly. We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives," per the draft.
  • These draft documents don't reflect final vote tallies, but Republican-appointed justices have a 6-3 advantage on the court.
  • The decision should be released sometime within the next two months and Roe is still currently the law though many red states have pushed ahead with abortion bans, confident the new measures will stand.

How the leak happened: "POLITICO received a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document. ... The appearances and timing of this draft are consistent with court practice."

The bottom line: The Supreme Court is famous for not leaking ahead of decisions. After today, that has changed.

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