Protesters were gathering outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Monday night in response to a draft opinion obtained by Politico which, if verified, reveals the court’s intention to overturn the landmark decision Roe v. Wade on abortion rights.
NBC News has not obtained or confirmed the project, which is believed to be from February. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the case, and opinions are known to change between the drafting process and the final published decision.
People could be heard chanting aloud “abortion is health” and seen holding signs as the crowd grew. Judicial police installed metal barricades in front of the steps of the stone building on Monday evening after the existence of the draft notice was announced.
“I’m just a bit in shock,” said one protester who said she expected the court not to overturn so many years of precedent.
Another pro-choice protester said she “absolutely” had to protest in court because it affects her rights so “personally”.
“It hurts so much to know that he could be ripped from me,” she said.
A pro-life protester explained that the potential ruling would end the “mass killing” of unborn humans.
The Metro DC DSA group said it would gather on the steps of the Supreme Court from midnight Tuesday after the news broke.
The first draft opinion in the case challenging Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban was written in February by Judge Samuel Alito. As of this writing, six conservative members of the court have voted to overturn the nearly 50-year-old ruling that protected abortion as a constitutional right. Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 Tory majority, forcefully rejects his predecessors’ initial ruling, saying “Roe was horribly wrong all along.” “We feel that Roe and Casey should be canceled,” he adds.
Judges typically vote soon after arguments are heard in a case, according to those with broad court coverage. Draft opinions are then created and circulated among the judges and their clerks. Since these are drafts, the judges can and have changed their votes.
If the draft or some version of it turns into a final decision — expected to be released next month — the legality of abortion would be left to individual states unless Congress makes it legal at national scale.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Court said late Monday that the court declined to comment on the reported draft ruling. The leak of a draft opinion – especially in a case of this magnitude – is unprecedented, say those covering the tribunal, which covets secrecy as its members mull the cases.
This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.