The United States Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO.
“The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right. ‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start, Alito writes,” according to the site.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito writes in the document, secured by POLITICO labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The immediate impact of the ruling as drafted in February would be to end a half-century guarantee of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights and allow each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. It’s unclear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft.
No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending. The unprecedented revelation is bound to intensify the debate over what was already the most controversial case on the docket this term.
The draft opinion offers an extraordinary window into the justices’ deliberations in one of the most consequential cases before the court in the last five decades. Some court-watchers predicted that the conservative majority would slice away at abortion rights without flatly overturning a 49-year-old precedent. The draft shows that the court is looking to reject Roe’s logic and legal protections.
The majority draft was written in response to the Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
POLITICO cautions the draft was written in February and may have already been re-written. And sometimes justices change their votes.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it would remove the federal guarantee of abortion protection and allow each state to set its own rules.
The court is expected to rule on the case before its term is up in late June or early July.