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WASHINGTON – In a stunning revelation published Monday evening in Politico, an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito disclosed that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

According to Politico’s reporting; “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.”

The unprecedented disclosure marks the first time in the modern history of the Court that an opinion has leaked while a case is still pending. If issued, the ruling would pave the way for a majority of states to criminalize abortion — a devastating reality for millions of American women and transgender and nonbinary people, who rely on safe, legal abortion care.

Senior legal writer for Slate magazine, Mark Joseph Stern noted that Justice Alito’s draft opinion explicitly criticizes Lawrence v. Texas (legalizing sodomy) and Obergefell v. Hodges (legalizing same-sex marriage). He says that, like abortion, these decisions protect phony rights that are not “deeply rooted in history.”

A lawyer contacted by the Blade who asked to speak on background said that the greater issue for the LGBTQ+ community and Americans in general is that should the court proceed with the draft in present form, which although may seem unlikely, it sends a clear signal that the high court cannot be trusted to protect and preserve the rights of minority citizens.

In the draft Alito writes; “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” With the current political climate leaning against LGBTQ+ Americans as evidenced by passage of a litany of anti-Trans laws, Don’t Say Gay measures, and book bans, “this points to the immediate need to raise the alarm,” the lawyer continued.

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization released the following statement from Executive Director Tony Hoang in reaction to POLITICO’s reporting and the draft opinion:

“Abortion is healthcare. Abortion is essential. Abortion is a fundamental human right.

“There is nothing the Supreme Court can do to change that. There is nothing five or six justices can do to stop people from needing and seeking abortion care. What they can do — and what overturning Roe will do — is cost people their lives and livelihoods. Women. Transgender and nonbinary people. Our mothers and sisters and friends and neighbors and colleagues.

“Shame on us if we let this stand. We must organize, mobilize and vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do.”

Reaction to the leaked document from politicians and others came swiftly as word spread of the Politico report.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul released a statement saying;

“I am horrified by the apparent draft Supreme Court opinion leaked this evening that would overturn the right to abortion guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. For the sake of women across the country, this should not be the Supreme Court’s final opinion when it comes to abortion rights.

“We have been fighting this battle for too long. I refuse to go backwards. I refuse to let my new granddaughter have to fight for the rights generations have fought for and won, rights that she should be guaranteed.

“For anyone who needs access to care, our state will welcome you with open arms. New York will always be a place where abortion rights are protected and where abortion is safe and accessible. Just as the Statue of Liberty lifts her lamp tall in our harbor, New York will never stop fighting for what’s right — unafraid and undeterred.”

Politico did point out that deliberations on controversial cases have in the past been fluid. Justices can and sometimes do change their votes as draft opinions circulate and major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote-trading, sometimes until just days before a decision is unveiled. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months.

The court is expected to rule on the case before its term is up in late June or early July.

The Los Angeles Blade spoke with Shannon Minter, the Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) who told the Blade;

“That someone leaked this opinion–violating the Court’s most sacrosanct rule of confidentiality–speaks volumes about how extreme and dangerous much of the Court’s jurisprudence has become. We don’t know if this will be the final decision, but it is shocking to read this assault on an established fundamental right. A court that would issue an opinion like this–if it does–is a court that has abandoned any pretense of protecting individual freedom.

It would be harder for the court to hold that there is no fundamental right to marry or to sexual privacy, as any such decision would apply to both gay and straight people, but it would be foolhardy to predict how extreme this court may become. LGBTQ people should recognize that we are once again in the crosshairs and that all of our hard-won protections are under serious threat.

We have become too accustomed to counting on the courts for protection, and we must realize the days when we could safely do so are past. Our hope lies in joining forces with others who are fighting to protect democracy and the rule of law and to prevent our country from sliding into the same authoritarianism that is rising across the globe.”  

In Sacramento Monday evening, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement regarding a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade:

“This draft opinion is an appalling attack on the rights of women across this country and if it stands, it will destroy lives and put countless women in danger. It will be the end of fundamental constitutional rights that American women have had for nearly 50 years.

“This is not an isolated incident, and it is not the end. We have a Supreme Court that does not value the rights of women, and a political minority that will stop at nothing to take those rights away. This won’t stop with choice and the right to privacy. They are undermining progress, and erasing the civil protections and rights so many have fought for over the last half century.

“I’m furious that my own daughters and sons could grow up in an America that is less free than the one they were born into. We have to wake up. We have to fight like hell. We will not be silenced.”

Calif. State Senator Scott Wiener (D-SF) noted; “California unequivocally stands for the right to an abortion, no matter what the right-wing zealots on the Supreme Court say. We will fight hard to expand abortion access, here and in other states.”

A senior Democratic Senator, Tammy Baldwin, (WI) who is openly Out tweeted her disgust at the leaked draft.

Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

Justice Samuel Alito in an initial draft majority opinion

POLITICO received a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document. The draft opinion runs 98 pages, including a 31-page appendix of historical state abortion laws. The document is replete with citations to previous court decisions, books and other authorities, and includes 118 footnotes. The appearances and timing of this draft are consistent with court practice.

Link to full Politico article and the draft document here: https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/02/supreme-court-abortion-draft-opinion-00029473

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