Leaked Supreme Court Initial Majority Opinion Details the Court’s Plans to Overturn Roe V. Wade

Late on Monday night, Politico reported that they had obtained an authenticated initial draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court detailing their plans to strike down Roe v. Wade and return power to determine citizens’ rights to abortions to the individual states. The Supreme Court’s decision likely would not have been released for at least another month and goes against many predictions as to what the Court was going to decide regarding the half-century precedent. Some stayed hopeful that the Court would not strike down the rights protected by Roe v. Wade, while others expected the Court to do so but did not see the potentially incoming complete overturn of the precedent detailed by the initial draft majority opinion. Politico reports that Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the majority opinion, is maintaining that the Roe v. Wade ruling was “an ill-conceived and deeply flawed decision,” and in his own words, “egregiously wrong from the start” (Politico).

In the biggest breach of the Supreme Court’s well-known secrecy around their decisions before their release in modern history, Alito’s writing of the majority opinion instead of Chief Justice John Roberts implies that the Roe v. Wade overturn will be a 5-4 decision, with the five conservative justices (Justices Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanagh, and Samuel Alito) voting in favor of the overturn and the three liberal justices (Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan) voting against the overturn, with Chief Justice Roberts siding with the latter. Following the leak of the document, protesters have gathered outside the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. and around government buildings in individual states to advocate against the overturn, yelling chants like “‘Hey, hey, ho, ho, Samuel Alito’s gotta go’” and “‘Abortion rights are under attack, what do we do, stand up fight back’” (CNN). Not only does this leak represent the biggest breach of the Supreme Court’s privacy in modern history, but the magnitude of the effects this breach could have is amplified by the controversiality of the case, as the nation has been largely polarized into well-known “pro-choice” and “pro-life” sides regarding rights to abortion access for decades.

So what does this mean for rights to abortion access around the country if Roe v. Wade is overturned as is now expected? The Center for Reproductive Rights reports that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are all likely to ban abortion completely (Center for Reproductive Rights). Thirteen states, including some of the ones above – Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming – have trigger laws in place that would immediately ban abortion as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned (New York Times). Any citizen seeking an abortion in any of these states or any other states that could limit access to abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade could look to other methods, such as ordering abortion pills online or traveling to “safe haven” states. Connecticut itself has a law in place that protects abortion rights even if Roe v. Wade is overturned. However, a danger lies in the prohibition of abortions by law: If a citizen can’t get abortion pills or can’t travel to a “safe haven” state, they may look to other unsafe abortion methods, potentially endangering their life.

To learn more about this unfolding story and access to abortion rights in the United States, you can visit the New York Times to see a map of how access to abortion and locations of abortion clinics would change with the overturn of Roe v. Wade, and you can visit the Center for Reproductive Rights to read more about abortion rights at the state, nationwide, and global level, and learn more about Roe v. Wade and past abortion rights legal cases. 

Alex Martinez-Garcia, Editor-in-Chief of The Colonel Newsmagazine and Horizons Yearbook
Senior Alex Martinez-Garcia is an Editor-in-Chief for the 2021-2022 Colonel Newsmagazine and Horizons yearbook. If she’s not in a swimming pool, she’s probably hanging out with her friends or brothers, playing lacrosse, indulging in a good book, or living her dream life vicariously through Pinterest and Netflix shows.

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