The Supreme Court announced Tuesday a draft opinion leaked to the press on Monday night overruling Roe v. Wade is authentic but not the court’s final ruling.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. vowed in a statement shared on Twitter that the leak won’t impact the high court’s work and has directed the court’s marshal to probe the source of the breach, calling it “singular and egregious.”
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Chief Justice Roberts said. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”
A spokesperson for the high court did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Court watchers 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 February.
An official ruling in the case is expected by the end of June.
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Mississippi officials argue that Roe should be overturned because it’s outdated.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.