- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 7, 2022

The leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the constitutional right to abortion gave liberal activists a rare chance to change the minds of the high court’s most conservative justices before a final opinion is handed down.

They quickly seized the opportunity and targeted the justices on a personal level, publicizing the addresses of five justices who would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

Supreme Court experts say the protests are unlikely to alter the final ruling, which is expected by June 27. Justice Clarence Thomas declared he won’t be “bullied” by the left.

Liberal activists, however, won’t be dissuaded and plan to use the next seven weeks to pummel the justices with outrage.

Flipping the vote of just one justice would keep abortion rights intact. 

Activists took the initial protests that began on the steps of the Supreme Court and expanded them across the country. Protests and marches are planned for the next two weeks and beyond, organizers told The Washington Times. 

SEE ALSO: Justice Alito’s legal reasoning for ending Roe rests on history, the right to life

They envision a barrage of “relentless and sustained” protests on a massive scale, which they believe might persuade at least one of the five conservative justices, who reportedly voted in secret to overturn the law, to reverse the looming decision. 

“This is what we need to do to create such an upsurge, such an outpouring of fury, that they are compelled to respond to our demands,” abortion rights organizer Sunsara Taylor said in an interview. 

Ms. Taylor is helping coordinate “a week of resistance” with the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, and more protests are planned throughout the month.

The group coordinated protests at Catholic churches on Sunday.

Protesters have been told to wear green bandanas, which they identify as an international symbol of abortion rights. Organizers said they expect hundreds of thousands of people to attend marches and rallies on Saturday in cities nationwide. 

Fueling their effort is a sincere belief that the justices are persuadable.

“The leaked decision is a draft,” Ms. Taylor said. “It is not yet law. Everybody who does not want to see the state have the right to hijack women’s bodies, and force them to have children against their will, needs to raise their voices and get out in the streets nonviolently and make it clear to the Supreme Court and every other institution that we refuse to accept the loss of abortion rights.”

Several legal experts, some with close knowledge of the high court, said they doubted the activism will lead to an alternative ruling.

The initial draft was authored by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and was backed by Justice Thomas as well as Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil M. Gorsuch. 

Overturning Roe would end federal protections for abortion rights and leave such laws up to the states.

“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Justice Alito wrote. 

After the leak, Justice Alito canceled a scheduled appearance at the Eleventh Circuit Judicial Conference. Court watchers do not expect him to reverse his opinion, which conservatives and pro-life groups have widely praised. 

“I can’t imagine that any justices would allow ugly protests to cow them,” said Ed Whelan, a distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “If anyone does, that person should find a different job.”

The protests will be difficult for the justices to ignore.

An activist group “Ruth Sent Us” is organizing protests on Wednesday at the residences of the five justices supporting the draft opinion, as well as the home of U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. 

The website for the group, which is named after the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, features a map showing the home addresses of the targeted justices. Organizers are offering to pay protest participants who can produce “large-scale art.”

Dozens of demonstrators chanted slogans and waved signs Saturday evening as they marched to the homes of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh in Chevy Chase, Maryland, an affluent Washington suburb.

“You don’t get to take away my bodily autonomy and get to enjoy your Saturday at home. You can do one or the other,” called out protester Nikki Enfield, according to WUSA 9, a CBS News affiliate.

It won’t sway the justices, said Carrie Severino, president of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.

“I think the justices recognize what’s going on and don’t want to encourage this type of bullying behavior,” she said.

West Virginia University College of Law Professor Anne Marie Lofaso said the protests at most could impact a justice who hasn’t fully decided on the issue.

“I don’t think the justices are going to be consciously changed by this, but I think once a variable changes, things subconsciously can happen to people,” Ms. Lofaso said. “It could harden them, also.” 

The scale of the protests and targeting of justices’ homes have angered Republican lawmakers, who are concerned it jeopardizes their safety.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, introduced legislation expanding protective details for the justices and their families. He said the justices “have already been threatened with violence,” which puts the court’s judicial independence at risk. 

Ms. Severino said Chief Justice Roberts should consider issuing the ruling early, before the end of June. 

“I really think the best way to address this would be to say, ‘We are not going to leave this decision hanging out there for you to bully the whole court for the next two months,’” Ms. Severino said. “‘So let’s just issue it quickly.’”

Chief Justice Roberts has ordered the court police to investigate the leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion. He spoke Thursday at the  Eleventh Circuit Judicial Conference in Atlanta. According to CNN, he told the audience that it was “foolish” to believe the unauthorized early release of the draft opinion would influence the court

Chief Justice Roberts called the leak “absolutely appalling.”

• Valerie Richardson contributed to this report.

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide