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Pelosi and Schumer slam Supreme Court justices for writing 'one of the worst' decisions in history amid reported leak of draft opinion to overturn abortion rights

Brent D. Griffiths   

Pelosi and Schumer slam Supreme Court justices for writing 'one of the worst' decisions in history amid reported leak of draft opinion to overturn abortion rights
  • Democrats slammed a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling overturning abortion rights.
  • Politico reported that Justice Samuel Alito has a draft majority opinion ready that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer torched Supreme Court justices on Monday night after Politico published what appears to be a leaked draft of a ruling overturning the right to an abortion.

"If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years – not just on women but on all Americans," the top two Congressional Democrats said in a joint statement. "The Republican-appointed Justices' reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history."

Pelosi and Schumer also went after the heart of the Republican Party, a political movement that once welcomed moderate views on abortion, for supporting the confirmation of justices that will fundamentally gut abortion rights. Democrats are far less likely to have anti-abortion lawmakers now, a sign of just how polarizing the issue has become to the two parties.

"The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has now completely devolved into the party of Trump," Pelosi and Schumer said. "Every Republican Senator who supported Senator McConnell and voted for Trump Justices pretending that this day would never come will now have to explain themselves to the American people."

Politico reported that Justice Samuel Alito has circulated an initial draft majority opinion that would overturn the high court's precedent of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two of the court's most critical decisions establishing abortion rights in America.

"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," Alito writes in what Politico describes as a document labeled "Opinion of the Court." "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."

Rank and file Democratic lawmakers quickly unified around a plan to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

"If #SCOTUS is going to legislate from the bench and turn back the clock 50 years on #RoeVWade, then the Senate needs to pass my Women's Health Protection Act, and if we need to eliminate the filibuster to get it done, we should do that too," Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, wrote on Twitter.

Baldwin's comments illustrate how House and Senate Democrats appear to be rallying around a renewed effort to codify the Supreme Court's precedent into law.

But this effort is very likely to be unsuccessful given that the Senate's filibuster effectively requires the legislation to receive 60 votes in the chamber. Only two Senate Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, have expressed past pro-abortion opinions. But even Collins opposes the House-passed Women Protection Act, which she has argued goes too far.

Along with that focus, some progressive lawmakers made explicit calls for public outrage and demonstrations.

"People should take to the streets across the country," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus, wrote on Twitter along with a call for Congress to codify Roe v. Wade's central holdings.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a Democrat from Michigan, spoke to the emotion of the moment for many Democrats.

"This is gut wrenching," Lawrence wrote on Twitter.

While Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued that Alito's reported draft opinion makes clear that the right to same-sex marriage could soon be in jeopardy too.

"As we've warned, SCOTUS isn't just coming for abortion - they're coming for the right to privacy Roe rests on, which includes gay marriage + civil rights," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.

In the reported opinion, Alito lists Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 landmark decision that legalized same-sex marriage, among a host of past decisions that granted rights despite "any claim to being deeply rooted in history." Alito argues the opinion that the act of abortion raises a "critical moral question" that even these previous cases have not.

Politico's report makes clear that justices could change their vote and the opinion is not necessarily the court's final view on the subject.

Some Republican lawmakers rejoiced at the prospect that a decades-long fight to end abortion in America may be closer to reality than ever before.

"If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade it will be the most important Supreme Court ruling in my lifetime. The United States can and must stand for life!" Rep. Austin Pfluger, a Republican from Texas, wrote on Twitter.

But conservatives almost universally expressed horror that a draft Supreme Court opinion could be publicly leaked.

"The next time you hear the far left preaching about how they are fighting to preserve our Republic's institutions & norms remember how they leaked a Supreme Court opinion in an attempt to intimidate the justices on abortion," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a former Republican presidential candidate, wrote on Twitter.

Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a former Supreme Court clerk, called the action "an unprecedented breach of confidentiality, clearly meant to intimidate." He later begged the court to issue its opinion immediately.

Alito, a George W. Bush appointee, is a stalwart conservative on the court. But if it is true that the court is ready to overturn abortion rights then the victory is entirely attributed to former President Donald Trump's three appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Politico reports that it is unclear if Chief Justice John Roberts would join Alito's opinion, but if Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas, and the three Trump justices join together then Roberts could not stop them.

The publication of the draft opinion is an extraordinary moment in the court's history, particularly when the opinion would explicitly overturn decades of Supreme Court precedent. The court is known for being a virtually leak-proof institution in a town where Congress and the White House, comparatively, leak like sieves.

Justices were expected to reach a decision on the pending case before their term concludes this summer. The current pending decision regards Mississippi's law that effectively bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a law specifically designed to go after the heart of Roe.


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