Sabotaging leak? Major US Supreme Court ruling on abortion

Late Monday evening, May 2, the US-based political journalism outlet Politico published groundbreaking information considering the legality of abortion concerning the US constitution - an exclusive leak of the purported majority opinion in Dobbs v. Mississippi (2022), deciding whether or not Roe v. Wade (1973) should be overturned.

Striking down the Controversial Roe v. Wade decision

Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court made in 1973, in which it argued that the Constitution of the United States protects the act of abortion through the “right to privacy,” which was controversially viewed as a legal non-argument.

The majority opinion leaked was purportedly written by Justice Samuel Alito, and falls in line with his usual choice of words. If the decision were to be passed, a reversion of all US abortion laws to the state level would be observed, as the majority opinion rejected in totality Roe and the entire following chain of cases, including Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992).

The decision concluded by striking down the faulty legal reasoning of Roe and Casey, as it reads:

“Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

Major shift in US politics if the decision goes through

If the Supreme Court majority endorse the draft decision, it would overhaul US politics as we know it. Roe v. Wade and the line of cases that follows have long been criticised for federalising the legality of abortions based on flawed reasoning and social activism, prioritising left-wing politics over its intended purpose of interpreting the Constitution. The line of decisions had long sowed division, polarisation and distrust in the Supreme Court to serve as an unbiased institution, and striking down Roe would be a step towards a return for the judicial branch to stay within its own realms of authority, as the draft opinion writes:

“Our sole authority is to exercise ‘judgement’ – which is to say, the authority to judge what the law means and how it should apply to the case at hand….The Court’s inability to end the debate on the issue should not have been surprising. This Court cannot bring about the permanent resolution of a rancorous national controversy simply by dictating a settlement and telling the people to move on….We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision overruling Roe and Casey. And even if we could foresee what will happen, we would have no authority to let that knowledge influence our decision.”

Malicious nature of the leak

However, an alarming issue accompanied the leak of the decision: who, why and how was the decision leaked? This is not a secondary issue, but one that holds grave importance for a multitude of reasons.

The most glaringly obvious reason is the fact that the draft decision is just that, a draft decision, which is still subject to change, and likely to be influenced by feedback and other members. The leak of the Supreme Court decision, unprecedented in modern US politics, raises alarms about the possible attempt at leveraging public pressure from activists and fracturing the court, subjecting the judicial branch that is supposedly above politics, to waves of threats from activists enraged by the possibility of restrictions on abortion.

The leak can also be easily seen as blatant sabotage and demonstrates the obvious disdain that some hold for the rule of law, as it is sure to cause a dramatic shift within the Court, destroying trust among Justices and staff. Under normal circumstances, whoever leaked the story should immediately be prosecuted for their attempt to sway the judicial vote by unconventional and unlawful means. However, the polarising nature of the topic at hand and the re-occurring nature of disregarding the rule of law in the protection of party interests will likely see to it that the violation of the law in the highest court of the country becomes an afterthought.