The Supreme Court leak is a symptom of institutional breakdown

Exposure of the draft abortion ruling puts the court’s politics on display

A pillar.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

I didn't see it coming. When the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization last year, I assumed the majority of justices would find a way to uphold a constitutional right to abortion while paring back its practical application. Such an outcome seemed consistent with Chief Justice Roberts' careful and often strained efforts to prevent the court from taking sides in major political disputes.

But that's not the way things seem to be turning out. According to a draft opinion leaked to Politico, the court is preparing to overturn rulings in Roe v. Wade (1973) and its successor Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992). The key sentence of the draft neatly summarizes an argument that critics of those decisions (including some who were far from conservative) have been making for nearly five decades: "The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…"

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