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May 4, 2022

Supreme Court Draft Opinion Overturning Roe v. Wade Leaked to Media

In the evening on Tuesday, May 2, Politico published a draft majority opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Supreme Court precedent creating a right to abortion.

The draft opinion was written in February for Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. That case concerns a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks. The state of Mississippi used the case as an opportunity to argue for the Supreme Court to overturn cases that created a constitutional right to abortion. 

As written, the opinion shows a 5-4 vote in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The opinion is just a draft, however. The Justices have every right to change their opinions before they reach a final decision.

In a press release on May 3, Chief Justice Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion. He made clear that the draft opinion does not represent a final vote. He wrote in a statement,
"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 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 to the 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."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell similarly called on the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice to investigate the leak. "The Chief Justice must get to the bottom of it and the Department of Justice must pursue criminal charges if applicable," McConnell said in a statement.

Pro-abortion actors quickly reacted to the leak. Some put pressure on Supreme Court Justices to change their stances. Pro-abortion politicians are using the leak as an opportunity to rally voters.

Gov. Pritzker wrote on Twitter, “Hell no! In Illinois, we trust women. We cannot let their most profound and personal rights be violated.”

He later wrote in a second tweet, “Let me be clear: this has always been the GOP’s ultimate goal. For a party that claims to be about freedom, Republicans can’t wait to deprive millions of women the right to choose. As long as I’m governor, Illinois will stay a beacon for reproductive freedom. We won’t go back.”

US Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) also spoke out on Twitter. She said, “this is not final and the far-right Supreme Court majority will not have the last word. The American people will. Tonight, it’s important we get loud, organize and demand action from the Senate. Retweet if you agree it’s time to protect Roe v. Wade NOW.”

Illinois House Speaker Emmanuel Welch spoke at an event Wednesday morning with pro-abortion legislators to voice their opposition to the draft opinion and rally voters. "It's a dark day today, but the sun will shine again," Welch said. "Because we will march, because we will vote. We will vote at the ballot box, we will vote with our pocketbooks."

Even President Joe Biden spoke out against the opinion. “So, the idea that we’re going to make a judgment that is going to say that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child based on a decision by the Supreme Court … goes way overboard,” the president said at a press conference. Pro-life advocates pointed out that Biden's statement that a "child" is aborted rather than a "fetus" affirms the truth that human life is ended during an abortion.