Sen. Sherrod Brown blamed the conservative majority on the Supreme Court Tuesday for the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion that would gut the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
“It’s not shocking from this court, which has been the most politicized court,” the Ohio Democrat told The Washington Times. “There is just no respect for institutions from this majority.”
Court watchers on both sides of the aisle were aghast Monday night when news broke that a draft opinion indicates the high court would overrule the 1973 Roe decision, which gave women a national right to an abortion until fetal viability.
It is the first time a full draft opinion has been leaked in the Supreme Court‘s 233-year history, according to former law clerks.
In the 98-page draft opinion obtained by Politico, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said abortion should return to the state legislatures.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion,” he wrote. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”
“It’s time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” reads the opinion, dated from February.
An official ruling in the case is expected by the end of June.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer blamed Republican senators for confirming far-right judges, adding that judicial nominees had vowed to respect precedent.
He said the conservative justices “lied to the U.S. Senate” and “defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court‘s reputation.”
Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Americans have to turn out to vote in November’s midterms to protect women’s rights and vowed to bring legislation to the Senate floor to codify the right to an abortion.
“The election this November will have consequences,” he said. “The blame for this decision falls squarely on Republican senators.”
Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network and former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, said some liberals are willing to take down the court, celebrating the leak and breach of trust.
“It’s a new low in efforts to intimidate the justices and attacks on the court,” Ms. Severino said.
The court is weighing a Mississippi ban on abortion at 15 weeks in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Mississippi officials argue that Roe should be overturned because it’s outdated. The state contends the viability standard set out in Roe is unclear, and Mississippi has an interest in banning abortions after 15 weeks to protect women’s health and that of unborn children.
The legal battle was brought by Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic, and a doctor who provides abortions. According to court papers, the clinic provides abortions up to 16 weeks of gestation.
They challenged the state’s Gestational Age Act, enacted in 2018. The law bans abortions after 15 weeks unless there is a medical emergency or severe abnormality within the fetus.
The abortion providers told the court in their filing that the state’s interest in the woman’s health and children doesn’t begin until viability, occurs “months” after the 15-week marker set in the law.