Supreme Court Votes to Overturn Roe v. Wade, According to Leaked Draft Opinion

If the draft is genuine, this marks the first time in the court’s modern history that a draft opinion of the court has been leaked while the case is still pending.

United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.
United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (photo: Bob Korn / Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: This story has been updated. 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a draft opinion cited in a news report released Monday evening.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Associate Justice Samuel Alito writes in the purported 98-page draft document, obtained by Politico, which is labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

The Politico report described the opinion as “a full-throated, unflinching repudiation” of Roe v. Wade, which created a constitutional right to abortion nationwide up until roughly 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. 

The court sides with the state of Mississippi, which had appealed to the court to uphold a 15-week abortion ban that lawmakers there passed in 2018. In response to the leaked draft opinion, Mississippi's Attorney General Lynn Fitch made the following statement: “We will let the Supreme Court speak for itself and wait for the Court’s official opinion.”

“The Court has no comment,” Supreme Court public information officer Patricia McCabe said in an emailed statement.

The document, which bears the words “1st Draft” at the top, states that Roe v. Wade’s reasoning was “exceptionally weak,” that the original decision has had “damaging consequences,” and that the decision was “egregiously wrong.”

“Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Planned Parenthood v Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” the draft decision reads.

CNA has not been able to independently verify if the draft opinion shared by Politico is genuine, and the court’s decision will not be final until it is published, likely to happen by the end of June. If the decision holds, more than a dozen states will immediately outlaw abortion.

The news report, while noting that justices can change their votes as drafts are revised, said it is “unclear” whether there have been changes made since that first draft. The report says that four justices have joined Alito in the majority opinion, while three are preparing dissents. Chief Justice John Roberts has not yet decided how he will vote, the report says.

If the draft is genuine, this marks the first time in the court’s modern history that a draft opinion of the court has been leaked while the case is still pending, Politico notes. SCOTUSblog, a popular site that reports on the Supreme Court, tweeted that the draft is “almost certainly an authentic draft opinion” and that its leakage constituted an “unforgivable sin.”

"The document leaked to Politico is almost certainly an authentic draft opinion by J. Alito that reflects what he believes at least 5 members of the Court have voted to support — overruling Roe. But as Alito’s draft, it does not reflect the comments or reactions of other Justices," SCOTUSblog tweeted.

"It’s impossible to overstate the earthquake this will cause inside the Court, in terms of the destruction of trust among the Justices and staff. This leak is the gravest, most unforgivable sin."

Pro-life leaders reacted cautiously to the Politico report.

The pro-life group SBA List said it "will not be commenting until an official decision is announced by the Court."

On Twitter, reporters noted that barricades went up around the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., immediately after the news broke.

Georgetown student Gabe Fleisher, author of the Wake Up To Politics newsletter, tweeted, “Two police officers are standing watch as a crowd of about 50 has gathered, most sitting quietly with candles.”

This is a developing story.