Supreme Court confirms authenticity of draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, with Chief Justice John Roberts calling the leak a 'singular and egregious breach' of trust

supreme court
A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, March 15, 2019.Associated Press/Susan Walsh
  • The Supreme Court confirmed the veracity of a leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

  • The court also noted that the draft "does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case."

  • Chief Justice John Roberts said he's directed the court marshal to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of a leaked draft opinion that, if adopted, would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed the right to an abortion.

"Although the document described in yesterday's reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case," the court said in a statement.

Chief Justice John Roberts also put out a statement saying the leak of the draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, was a "betrayal of the confidences of the Court intended to undermine the integrity of our operations," but that it "will not succeed."

"The work of the Court will not be affected in any way," Roberts added.

Alito's draft opinion, an unprecedented leak obtained and published in full by Politico on Monday evening, sent shockwaves across the country as the major abortion rights case before the court is still pending.

Politico reported that Alito, along with Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett voted in the majority to overturn Roe after the court heard arguments on the case in December.

Alito in his draft opinion wrote that "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start" and that it must be "overruled," along with Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 landmark decision that reaffirmed Roe and established that states cannot impose an "undue burden" on abortion rights.

The draft opinion does not represent the court's final opinion on the case. The opinion's language, as well as the justices' votes, could change. Alito's draft opinion was authored in February, and such documents are typically circulated among the justices to sway their thinking ahead of the decision.

Roberts said in his Tuesday statement that he has directed the court marshal to launch an investigation into the source of the leak, which is unknown to the public. Politico reported that it obtained the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court's proceedings in the case.

"This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here," Roberts said.

Politico reported that it's unclear how Roberts voted and whether he will write his own opinion or join one. Following the leak, sources told CNN that Roberts is not in favor of completely overturning Roe, but is willing to uphold the Mississippi law at the heart of the case, which seeks to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The standard set in Roe, commonly referred to as viability, allows abortion until around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The court's three liberals, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, are writing one or more dissents, per Politico.

Alito's draft opinion, if it becomes the decision of the court, would be the single most consequential ruling on abortion rights in decades.

"It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives," he wrote.

Read the original article on Business Insider