According to reports, the Supreme Court has written an opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision protecting women's constitutional right to abortion.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority judgment, leaked to Politico in an exceptional breach of Supreme Court procedure.
"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Alito wrote.
The judgment overturns the 1973 decision guaranteeing constitutional safeguards for abortion rights and the 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," he wrote, 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 draft opinion would abolish federal abortion safeguards and instead leave it up to each state to decide whether or not to restrict or prohibit abortions.
According to the source, no draft judgment has ever been made public while a final decision on a case was pending in the court's contemporary history.
"The Court has no comment," Supreme Court spokesman Patricia McCabe told The Washington Post.
According to Politico, SCOTUS judges have been known to change their votes as opinions circulate. Significant rulings like this can go through numerous revisions before a final decision is announced.
After the judges convened following oral arguments in December, a source familiar with the court's views on the topic told the outlet that four other conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, supported Alito's decision.
As of this week, the four judges have kept their positions. According to the source, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan were working on one or more dissents, leaving Justice John Roberts to join the dissent or draft his own opinion.
Since the Roe v. Wade decision 49 years ago, the right to have an abortion until roughly 23 or 24 weeks has been protected by the federal government under the Constitution.
The Supreme Court indicated in December that it was willing to overturn the landmark case and allow Mississippi to ban abortion after 15 weeks.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights advocacy research group, if the Alito draft is adopted, it will rule in Mississippi's favor, prompting around 26 states in the South and Midwest to act to outlaw abortion immediately.
The final verdict of the court is likely later this spring.
The leaked opinion draft is sure to fuel the fire even more. Barricades were erected around the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC after news of the draft opinion surfaced.
Alito wrote, "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was feeble, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division."
Alito argued that the Constitution does not protect the right to abortion and that it should be left to the states to decide, writing that Roe "imposed the same highly restrictive regime on the entire Nation, and it effectively struck down the abortion laws of every single state."
"The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation's history and traditions," Alito wrote.
"The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion," the draft concludes.
"Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives."
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