Inquiry into US Supreme Court leaks ordered, protesters rally for potentially seismic abortion ruling

US President Joe Biden has said he will fight to preserve access to abortion services, while the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice has ordered an inquiry after an unprecedented leak suggested the highest court could overturn Roe v. Wade of 1973 which legalized abortion.

A leaked initial majority draft opinion suggests the court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, Reported Policy late Monday.

“Roe got it badly wrong from the start,” conservative judge Samuel Alito wrote in the draft opinion, dated Feb. 10, according to Politico, which posted a copy.

Abortion has been one of the most contentious issues in American politics for nearly half a century. The news came just over six months before the midterm elections that will determine whether the Democrats hold their slim majority in the US Congress for the next two years of President Joe Biden’s term.

Biden called it a potentially “radical” move in U.S. jurisprudence that could have ramifications for other privacy rights involving contraception and gay rights.

“It goes way beyond, in my view, it goes way beyond whether there is a right to choose,” he told reporters before leaving for a visit to Alabama. .

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In an earlier statement, the White House said it “will be ready as soon as a decision is made.”

“At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to pass legislation codifying Roe, which I will strive to pass and sign into law,” the statement said. attributed to Biden.

WATCH | Biden laments potential Roe overthrow against Wade:

Biden says overturning Roe v. Wade would be “radical”

US President Joe Biden has said a whole host of rights would be in jeopardy if the Supreme Court acts on a new draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade of 1973 which legalized abortion. 1:59

To reporters, Biden said he was not ready now to comment on whether the Senate filibuster on legislation to protect abortion rights – which requires a 60% threshold for votes instead of a simple majority – should be reversed.

Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the project was genuine in a statement, calling the leak a “singular and flagrant violation”. Roberts said he ordered the Supreme Court Marshal to investigate.

“To the extent that this betrayal of the court’s confidences 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,” Roberts said.

Biden said he was told the draft was genuine but was told “it doesn’t yet represent who’s going to vote for him.”

“I hope there won’t be enough votes for this.”

Would have ‘tragic consequences’: Democrat

Hours after the news broke, anti-abortion activists chanting “hey, hey, ho, ho, Roe v. Wade must go” and abortion rights supporters shouting “abortion is health care ” clashed in the Supreme Court.

Protester Annie McDonnell, 19, a student at George Washington University, said: ‘The first line of the draft is that this is a moral issue. If it’s a moral issue, you shouldn’t deprive us of our choice.”

“Judges come out of my vagina,” read a protest sign.

The unprecedented leak sent shockwaves across the United States.

Michigan’s Democratic Senator Gary Peters echoed that sentiment, saying it “will lead to very real and tragic consequences for people from all walks of life.”

Many Republican members of Congress seemed more committed to the leak.

WATCH | A draft notice has leaked:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a “staggering violation” in a statement.

“The Chief Justice needs to get to the bottom of it and the Department of Justice needs to pursue criminal charges, if appropriate,” he said.

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley argued that if a clerk leaks it, he should be expunged. Hawley added that, if true, the leaked opinion was “well-researched, well-argued and morally powerful”.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would introduce a bill that would codify abortion rights into law, aiming for a vote next week. Such a vote is unlikely to reach 60 votes, but would force some Republicans to have to defend their no in the midterm campaign trial.

A previous vote failed to pass in the Senate in March.

Several states have “trigger” laws

The draft decision appeared to be based on a December argument about Mississippi’s attempt to reinstate its ban on abortions from 15 weeks pregnant, a law blocked by lower courts.

After a first vote among the judges following a pleading, one is assigned the majority opinion and drafts a draft. It is then circulated among the judges.

Sometimes, between the initial vote and the decision rendered, the alignment of the vote may change.

An official opinion on the Mississippi case from the nine-member court, which has six Republican-appointed judges, is expected before the end of June.

Protesters sit outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday after a leaked majority opinion draft authored by Justice Samuel Alito grooming a court majority to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade on abortion rights later this year. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Many Republican-led states have passed various abortion restrictions in recent years, as well as so-called trigger laws, which would go into effect and automatically ban abortions if the Supreme Court provides the legal basis.

If Roe is overturned, abortion will likely remain legal in liberal states. More than a dozen states have laws protecting the right to abortion.

California has previously said it will look to find other ways to accommodate out-of-state people seeking abortions if the law is overturned.

“We can’t trust SCOTUS to protect abortion rights, so we’ll do it ourselves,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Twitter, referring to the Supreme Court.

would go against the global trend

Based on Alito’s opinion, the court would conclude that Roe v. Wade, which allowed abortions performed before a fetus is viable outside the womb – between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy – was wrongly decided because the US Constitution makes no specific mention of the right to abortion.

“Abortion poses a deep moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of every state from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” Alito said, according to the leaked document.

The Roe v. Wade acknowledged that the right to privacy under the United States Constitution protects a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy.

The decision helped mobilize Christian leaders, leading to the formation of politically active organizations such as the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.

Derenda Hancock, co-host of the Pinkhouse Defenders, is shown on Tuesday. The group is made up of volunteers who protect and escort patients entering the last remaining clinic to perform abortions in Mississippi, where the Supreme Court case arose. (Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)

The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research group, has estimated that about half of all US states would ban abortion if they had the legal backing. In 2019, the group said abortions were at their lowest level since Roe v. Wade, due to a falling birth rate, expanded contraceptive insurance coverage and increased use. drugs that can terminate pregnancies.

A 2021 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 59% of American adults thought it should be legal in all or most cases, while 39% thought it should be illegal in most or all cases. .

If the Supreme Court offered an opinion consistent with the Politico report, the United States would buck the global trend. The Council on Foreign Relations a report at the end of 2019, tracked nearly 30 cases of countries this century that have expanded access to abortion services, with only the United States and a handful of others tightening restrictions.