A leaked initial draft majority opinion suggests the US Supreme Court will vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Politico reported on Monday.
Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the draft independently. If correct it would be an unprecedented disclosure of a draft Supreme Court opinion.
The Supreme Court and the White House declined to comment.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the draft opinion which is dated Feb. 10, according to Politico.
Four of the other Republican-appointed justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — voted with Alito in the conference held among the justices, the report added.
"It is possible there have been some changes since then (Feb 10)," Politico reporter Josh Gerstein, who broke the story, said on MSNBC late on Monday.
After an initial vote among the justices following the oral argument, one is assigned the majority opinion and writes a draft. It is then circulated among the justices.
At times, in between the initial vote and the ruling being released, the vote alignment can change. A ruling is only final when it is published by the court.
In a post on Twitter, Neal Katyal, a lawyer who regularly argues before the court, said if the report was accurate it would be "the first major leak from the Supreme Court ever."
There are lots of signals the opinion is legit. The length and depth of analysis, would be very hard to fake. It says it is written by Alito and definitely sounds like him. It’s 60+ pages long.— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) May 3, 2022
The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, heard oral arguments in December on Mississippi's bid to revive its ban on abortion starting at 15 weeks of pregnancy, a law blocked by lower courts. Read full story
According to the Politico report, it appeared based on December's oral argument that a majority was inclined to uphold Mississippi's abortion ban and that there could be five votes to overturn Roe.
The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognized that the right to personal privacy under the US Constitution protects a woman's ability to terminate her pregnancy.
The Supreme Court in a 1992 ruling called Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey reaffirmed abortion rights and prohibited laws imposing an "undue burden" on abortion access.
Mississippi asked the justices to overturn the Roe and Casey rulings.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said on Twitter that New York will "always guarantee" the right to abortion.
"This is an absolutely disgraceful attack on our fundamental right to choose, and we will fight it with everything we've got," Hochul said on Twitter in a reaction to Politico's report.