SCOTUS draft leak threatens Roe v. Wade

A leaked SCOTUS draft has sparked abortion-related controversy around the nation.

Soraia Bohner

A leaked SCOTUS draft has sparked abortion-related controversy around the nation.

 On Monday night, the Supreme Court’s decision for Dobbs v Jackson’s Women’s Health was leaked by an unknown source. The document revealed that in a 5-4 decision, the court had moved to strike down the right to an abortion established in Roe v Wade (1972).

The leak came from the website Politico. According to alllsides.com, the news site has a slight left-leaning bias. When the news broke, it prompted protests across the country and all the way up to the steps of the Supreme Court. Though the decision is not final, it is controversial, no matter what side of the political spectrum one sides with.

There’s far more that’s unknown about the leak, the biggest one being who leaked it. However, there are speculations as to who it is. One theory is that the leak was meant to solidify the justices current positions and prevent one of the court’s conservative justices from defecting to the left. Out of the five-strong conservative majority, Justice Kavanaugh would be the most likely to compromise with the liberals, and uphold the decision on Roe. He previously stated during his confirmation, that he “understands the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade.” The leak could prevent him from switching to prevent backlash from republicans.  

Another theory on the leak is that it come from a liberal clerk who hoped that public pressure would prompt Cheif justice Roberts, who likely sided with the liberals, to fight for only limitations on the right to an abortion, not an outright ban. According to the New York Intelligencer, a leak from liberals could prompt more of a compromise, especially if Justice Kavanugh could be influenced to agree with limitations rather than a ban.

An important note is that the Supreme Court has a history of secrecy and it is not common for a draft opinion to be leaked. In fact, a draft majority opinion has never been leaked in the court’s history. Before the 1857 ruling of Dred Scott v. Stanford, two dissenting justices released their own opinions. The original case, Roe v. Wade, a memo written by Justice Douglas managed to make its way to the Washington Post, but never before has an entire majority opinion been released.

“The Supreme Court’s secret deliberations are an important part of how the court functions, as it allows them to move back and forth with their decision making process. No opinion is final until it’s issued,” said AP Government teacher Sam Weaver.

For now though, the leak remains just a leak. The court has not officially ruled on the case, and thus the right to an abortion is still being upheld nationwide. While protests erupt across the country and Democrats scramble to protect that right to an abortion, the nation must wait til June, or even later, to hear the final ruling.

“For now, nothing is settled. However, it is ironic that the Court is asking for privacy when they are actively deciding a case about removing a right of privacy,” said Weaver.