Brief

Draft U.S. Supreme Court decision overturns Roe v. Wade

By: - May 3, 2022 5:00 am
Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. Justices are hearing arguments in a Mississippi case that seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade. Photo by Jane Norman/States Newsroom.

Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. Justices are hearing arguments in a Mississippi case that seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade. Photo by Jane Norman/States Newsroom.

Politico reported Monday on a leaked draft opinion circulated among justices of the U.S. Supreme Court calling for overturning the Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing abortion rights.

“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,” the Politico report states.

Politico calls  the draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, “a full-throated, unfliching 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.”

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito writes in the opinion, the full text of which is embedded in the Politico story.  “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

“If this reporting is true, this very well could be Democrats’ last warning before the Supreme Court strips reproductive rights from millions of Americans,” Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin’s state treasurer who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Senate, said in a statement from her campaign.  “We have had almost 50 years to codify Roe into law, we can’t afford to wait one more day. The Senate needs to end the filibuster, codify Roe, and defend reproductive freedom — Democrats need to act now.”

“The Supreme Court has shown their hand. Senator Chuck Schumer must call a special session to blow up the filibuster and codify Roe now,”  Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, another candidate in Wisconsin’s Senate primary, stated.

“It has never been more clear why we need to abolish the filibuster and take immediate action to protect every person’s right to make decisions about their own bodies,” stated Senate hopeful and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.  “Republicans have proven they will stop at nothing to strip every individual of their right to an abortion. We must act now.”

“Right this very minute, Senate Democrats need to show urgency,” Senate hopeful Alex Lasry, an executive on leave from the Milwaukee Bucks, said in a statement. “We must overturn the filibuster in order to protect the fabric and freedom of all Americans. Outlawing abortion harms women across the country and will tear families apart. When I’m elected in November, I’ll fight like hell with everything I have to make sure access to safe and legal abortion in available in Wisconsin and nationwide.”

In 2021, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson joined 43 of his Senate Republican colleagues who signed an amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that urged the court to uphold Mississippi’s law that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Johnson, a longtime opponent of Roe, has said that regulating abortion should be up to the states and if individuals don’t like the abortion laws in their state, they “can move.” 

Wisconsin has a total abortion ban on the books that criminalizes abortion, written more than 150 years ago. That law could go back into effect if Roe is overturned. 

The draft opinion leaked to Politico is not final. Justices could change their votes on a draft opinion as it circulates or create new drafts. 

But, “A person familiar with the court’s deliberations said that four of the other Republican-appointed justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — had voted with Alito in the conference held among the justices after hearing oral arguments in December, and that line-up remains unchanged as of this week,” Politico reports. “The three Democratic-appointed justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — are working on one or more dissents, according to the person. How Chief Justice John Roberts will ultimately vote, and whether he will join an already written opinion or draft his own, is unclear.”

The Court is expected to issue a final decision within the next two months.

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Ruth Conniff
Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.

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