Instead of our regular daily newsletter, we're doing another deep dive on a pressing story: the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade.
Overruling Roe v. Wade
Background: Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision in 1973 that constitutionally protected abortion based on the fourteenth amendment, which provides a “right to privacy.” Since then, it’s been criticized for being unconstitutional—the constitution never mentions abortion.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, 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.”
- Justice Samuel Alito in the leaked initial draft majority opinion.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a pending Supreme Court case dealing with the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law that banned abortion after fifteen weeks. It’s the current case being heard and has allowed the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade.
If Wade is overruled: Overruling Roe v. Wade would return the abortion conversation to the state level; it wouldn’t ban abortion. Instead of federal abortion limits and regulations, states and the people in it would be able to pass their own laws.
The leak and declaring war on the Supreme Court
The leak: On Monday evening, Politico leaked the 98-page “Opinion of the Court” where Supreme Court Justice Alito concluded, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” A leak like this is unprecedented.
Breach of trust: The highest court in America operates with privacy, integrity, and trust. As Justice Roberts said, "this was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court.” An FBI investigation has already been launched into the source of the leak.
Some on the right have claimed that this political move is a substantial escalation that attacks the legitimacy of the Supreme Court—an institution that has long been seen as immune to political attacks.
Who leaked? There are two prominent theories. The first says that a clerk of a liberal Justice leaked the document for political reasons, and the second theory says the intelligence community acquired and leaked the document.
Why leak? To create a pressure campaign to preserve Roe v. Wade.
There are protests outside of the Supreme Court. Progressive activists called for violence in the case of an overruling. Media institutions are threatening to delegitimize the Supreme Court. Political kingmakers like Obama are calling for Americans to attend protests. Pressure on the Supreme Court—which is secretive—would not be possible without a leak.
It's possible that the pressure will not work and Roe v. Wade will still be overruled.
A George Floyd environment
Before the conclusion of Derek Chauvin’s trial—journalists spied on the jurors, politicians called for political riots, violence, and pressure, and the media amplified the sentiment of extremism. Similarly, the Supreme Court Justices are now being pressured through threats of violence to abandon their position on Roe v. Wade.
The immediate goal is to preserve Roe v. Wade. The secondary goal is to maintain a heightened sense of political extremism and energy into midterm elections.
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