Congressional Democrats have sounded the alarm after a leaked draft ruling indicated the U.S. Supreme Court was set to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed abortion rights across the board. the country for more than four decades.
The draft notice, dated February 10 and signed by Judge Samuel Alito, who is part of the court’s staunchly conservative majority, was published by Politico on Monday evening. The nine-member body is not expected to issue its final opinion until June or July, and a draft from several months ago may still change before publication.
The Supreme Court declined to comment on its authenticity.
The emergence of the document in a highly unusual leak sparked immediate outrage among Democratic politicians and groups dedicated to protecting abortion rights in the United States. Barricades were placed around the Supreme Court building in Washington as protesters began to gather outside.
The two top congressional Democrats — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — expressed outrage in a statement: “If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is about to go. to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years – not just on women but on all Americans.
“Every Republican senator who supported the senator [Mitch] McConnell and voted for Trump Justices claiming that day would never come will now have to explain themselves to the American people,” they added.
Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, said on Twitter: “An extremist Supreme Court is about to overturn #RoeVWade and impose his unpopular far-right views on the entire country. It’s time for the millions of people who support the constitution and the right to abortion to stand up and make their voices heard.
Raphael Warnock, the Democratic senator from Georgia who is running for re-election this year, added, “As a pro-choice pastor, I have always believed that a patient’s room was far too small for a woman, her doctor and the United States government. I will always fight to protect a woman’s right to choose. And that will never change.
Some Democrats have called for quick legislative fixes, even though their party’s control of Congress may be too tight for them to succeed. Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont, said it was time to codify Roe’s protections against Wade into law, while Mondaire Jones, a Democratic representative from the northern suburbs of New York, said the Supreme Court should recruit new members.
The Supreme Court’s proposed decision concerns the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. “It is time to respect the constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito wrote in the draft opinion.
The Politico report says Alito was joined by at least four other conservative justices from the Mississippi side — Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
Lower courts initially blocked the 15-week ban, ruling it unconstitutional. But last year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Mississippi’s case, creating huge anticipation around the decision, which could have huge political and social implications just months before the 2022 midterm elections. .
The Republican-led state has argued that citizens should be allowed to decide an issue on which the constitution “does not take sides.” But legal representatives for the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi that is seeking to end the ban, said the law was unconstitutional and that restricting abortion rights “would propel women back”.
If Roe is deported, nearly half of U.S. states would be on the verge of banning abortion through laws that include so-called “trigger laws,” which automatically go into effect if the decision is overturned, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
“If the Supreme Court does issue a majority opinion along the lines of the leaked draft authored by Justice Alito, the shift in the tectonic plates of abortion rights will be as significant as any opinion the court has ever issued.” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement.
Lynn Fitch, Mississippi Attorney General, said in a statement, “We will let the Supreme Court speak for itself and wait for the court’s official opinion. »