Supreme Court leak sparks conversation of a post-Roe America


Courtesy/Jordan Uhl

A crowd of mixed pro-life and pro-choice protestors each advocating for their respective cause

Kathryn Williams, Editor-In-Chief

A recent leak of a Supreme Court majority opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has the nation in an uproar as it grapples with the political implications of the leak and the concept of constructing a post-Roe America. 

The draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito and dated February 10, 2022, was released as breaking news by Politico on Monday, May 2 at 8:32 pm. The eruption was almost instantaneous. Within hours the story had been picked up by other news outlets and social media posts from either side of the abortion debate began to circulate. 

In a very broad overview, the draft opinion would essentially overturn precedent cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This would give states the power to dictate the abortion laws of their state, instead of the Supreme Court. The draft goes into much more detail, but the conclusion states that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.” The draft discusses how abortion is a “profound moral question” that the majority opinion justices believe should fall to the states. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each state from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” the opinion states.

While the 98-page document is available online, the main headline is that a Supreme Court leak confirms the end of Roe. This statement causes diverse, instantaneous reactions from people on various sides of the abortion debate. For those who support abortion restrictions, it is a cause for joy. Sophomore theology major and member of Hawks For Life, Tom Canuel, said, “As a Christian, the draft of the Supreme Court ruling gave me hope for not only our country but our world.” Canuel also noted that “while the draft is a reason to celebrate, we need to keep working to assist all mothers in pregnancies, especially unexpected or traumatic ones.”

Junior politics major and president of the Saint A’s Democrats, Emma Killham, reacted to the news quite differently. She explained that she had been following the case, especially as a student studying Constitutional Law this semester, and knew it was a position that Conservatives were fighting for. Still, she said that she was shocked when she got the notification. “I was hoping that they would follow precedent cases Roe and Casey, but to see that they are being struck down was pretty scary.”

Since the Supreme Court gained a majority conservative opinion, many assumed it was only a matter of time until a decision on abortion would be rendered. However, the opinion brought to the public through a leak was very unexpected. Neil Levesque, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, shared insight into the political motivations and ramifications of the leak. “It served its purpose. It created shock within the political system,” he said.

 “As we wait for an actual decision, people will be fundraising off of this decision,” explained Levesque. “They will be using this to spark energy within an electorate, voters in general, and donors to their advantage,” he continued. The leak can activate or sway voters for upcoming elections because it deals with such an important issue. Levesque explained how voters who may not have a strong party affiliation or care about elections will be motivated to turnout at the polls to vote based on that issue.

Given that the draft was written in February and an official decision is not expected until June, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about what the future holds. Since the document is an older draft, there is no concrete way of knowing where each justice stands or what revisions may have been made by now. Additionally, there is simply no way of knowing how the politics of the case will play out at this stage. “If there’s a group of people who are angry about a potential striking down of the law, then you have people who can be motivated through politics to do any number of things,” Levesque explained. Whether actions come via voters, legislators, or the Biden administration, time will surely tell. 

Justice Alito addressed concerns over this ruling impacting other rights based on similar privacy premises, such as Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage. “We emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” Alito wrote. He cited the fact that abortion is inherently different from other cases because it “terminates life or potential life.” 

How this ruling or subsequent cases will impact other areas of life will not be immediately clear. “In a legal case, you can take one thing and draw out a string and a thread and keep pulling it. So it has all kinds of implications,” said Levesque. While the nation awaits the official decision on the case, the leak will certainly prompt political action and planning for a post-Roe society.