A leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision ignited a sense of urgency Tuesday among Florida Democrats while drawing praise from Republicans.
Authored by Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. and supported by other members of the conservative majority of the Supreme Court, the draft opinion was reported Monday night by Politico. Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday confirmed that the leaked document was authentic.
The 98-page draft, if it comes to fruition, would rescind the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and allow states to make their own decisions on abortion. However, a news release that accompanied Roberts’ statement Tuesday said the draft “does not represent a decision by the court or the final position” of any of its members.
The draft was made public just shy of two months before a new Florida law will go into effect prohibiting most abortions past 15 weeks of pregnancy. Gov. Ron DeSantis last month signed the measure, which will take effect July 1. Roe v. Wade generally has allowed women to have abortions until about 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Responding to the U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion Tuesday, DeSantis touted the new state abortion law as “the strongest that Florida has seen in decades” and said the state is prepared to defend it from lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.
“We think we’re going to win there, but that is going to be something that we have to do. At the end of the day, it’s a mistake to read the federal Constitution to completely prohibit any pro-life protections. That’s not consistent with the text history structure. I don’t know if that (Supreme Court) opinion is going to be the actual opinion, Roberts said that’s not going to be … final, so who knows what’s going on behind the scenes,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Fort Myers Beach.
But state House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, gave a more emphatic endorsement of the draft opinion.
“I have long believed Roe v. Wade represents an abuse of power to manufacture law by judicial fiat. I eagerly await the official & final opinion issued by the Court. The leak however, is a stunning breach of trust & lack of honor by the individual responsible,” Sprowls wrote in a tweet.
Meanwhile, Democrats braced for what they called a “raid on women’s rights” and quickly organized protests across the state.
“We are walking into a post-Roe world. This is the reality that exists for my daughter that never existed for me. It is a very dangerous world that we are living in,” state Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Plantation, said.
Book told The News Service of Florida that Democrats, who are heavily outnumbered in the Legislature, will need voters to rally in support of candidates during the November elections to combat further restrictions to abortion access.
“People need to go and vote. We need the numbers. The reality is, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions today about … will the governor add a further restriction on abortion in a special (legislative) session. We know that the governor can do anything he wants, and the Republican-driven Legislature will follow suit and do whatever it is he is asking for,” Book said.
DeSantis has called a special session starting May 23 to address the state’s beleaguered property-insurance system.
Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, decried the potential Supreme Court ruling’s effect on other Republican-led states that have abortion laws that would be triggered by a decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
“Immediately, about 25 states will ban abortion, they have trigger laws in place. So, within days, within hours of the Supreme Court ruling, abortion will be banned in nearly half the United States of America,” Skidmore said.
Promising that “the fight is just beginning,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for governor this year, held a rally in Miami to try to energize potential voters. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, another Democrat running for governor, said in a statement that the issue will be “front and center” in the gubernatorial race.
The Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates advertised a rally to be held Tuesday afternoon outside the Florida Supreme Court.
“We are devastated, we are furious, and we will fight back. This draft opinion is outrageous, and unprecedented, but it is not final. Abortion is still legal in Florida. As of today, it remains your constitutional right,” Stephanie Fraim, president of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida said in a statement.
But groups that oppose abortion cheered the potential decision.
“The state has a compelling interest in protecting human life that is vulnerable, especially at that age. This is a huge day for those of us who have worked almost all of our lives to see this moment happen,” John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, said.
DeSantis, who went to law school at Harvard, focused much of his remarks Tuesday on the leaking of the draft opinion, characterizing it as an act of political intimidation. The draft is part of a case about a Mississippi law, similar to the new Florida law, that would prevent abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“To have that leak out the way it did was really unprecedented. I think it was really an attack on a lot of the justices. I think it was an intentional thing to try to whip up a lot of the public and to try to make it very political,” DeSantis said.
Roberts called the leak a “singular and egregious breach” of trust that the court has with employees to keep such internal communications confidential.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the court will not be affected in any way,” Roberts said in a statement.
–Ryan Dailey, News Service of Florida
Meredith Martin Davis says
This is terrible. Women’s reproductive rights are vital. Patriarchy autocratic rule will come for all the hard won freedoms. VOTE. BE LOUD. DONT GO AWAY. NO SILENCE
Deirdre Rutledge says
Regardless of individual opinions about abortion, if someone is pregnant and they want to end that pregnancy they will find a way.
While they don’t make coat hangers like they used to, since a pill can end a pregnancy now we will definitely have an underground market in getting them to women.
Women that want to have some choice in the matter regarding the most important decision of their own life will ensure that criminal market will thrive.
Do people that don’t want to wear masks or get vaccinations for Covid (because no one has any right to tell them what they can do with their own body) feel women should have a choice about this or not?
To quote the Late George Carlin
“Conservatives are not Pro Life, they are Anti Women!”
When will the Cult GOP Republicans start listening to women that it is their body not theirs to decide what it or isn’t done to it.
How about if we round all those bigot males up and women tell them what they want done to their bodies?????? How would those males feel then?
The Cult just lost million of women’s votes and they deserve it. This is 2022 stop going back in time to the past that is not progess and now it is discrimination against women and their rights to choose.
The Cult as always is blaming the Democrats for the leak by the Supreme Court. How about asking Justice Thomas wife Gina who seems to think she can do and say whatever she wants. Lets take bets she is the one that leaked the information.
Meredith Martin Davis says
I wonder if the “My Body MY choice” anti vaxxers and anti maskers against public health (often overwhelmingly this same GOP body) will feel the same about a woman’s body, her choice…everyone also needs to remember that the “Evangelical” group does not represent the majority of Americans, they are just very loud. We must all get louder and stronger to represent the entirety of America. The radical use of church /religion to sway is against our separation of church and state. Don’t be fooled, without resistance, many other rights and freedoms will fall one by one. VOTE
Spot on that’s my guess! A GOP operative took it in their own hands because they didn’t like what the other conservative Justices were saying. I hope it is her and Thomas resigns or is removed, Biden gets to replace him and the GOP can go cry to the Heritage Foundation.
Heathen Lady says
Agreed! This is EXACTLY the kind of thing she would do:
The lawyer who leaked the draft has shown more courage and integrity at the Supreme Court than anyone other than Roger Baldwin and John Quincy Adam’s during the Amistad case.
The only “…singular and egregious breach of trust…” is our Supreme Court that is now applying political payback for giving them their jobs. Weighing facts is not important anymore. That ship has sailed. The American public sees this. These people do not give a damn about lives, because if they did, they would not be sending women back to the back alleys and coat hangers. These supposed “Christians” do not give a damn about women or the unwanted children. There is no plan for them. It’s all about control for some, money for some and keeping jobs for others. It’s also about dividing this country up. Divide and conquer. Sad times, shameful politicians.
A conservative GOP elected official was stumbling all over himself on the news in a vain effort to justify his belief that even a 14 year old victim of rape should be required by law to carry the fetus of her rapist all the way to birth, rather than be allowed to abort the pregnancy. It is accounts like this that makes many Americans fear that women, and yes, even underage girls, are not valued as people but only walking wombs that are the property of men and who are to be told what to do and how to live with no minds of their own. Is America to become the real life version of A Handmaid’s Tale? And not to minimize the horrific impact on women, but just think for a second about this quote from Carliss Chatman, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, who asks: “If a fetus is a person at 6 weeks pregnant, is that when the child support starts? Is that also when you can’t deport the mother because she’s carrying a US citizen? Can I insure a 6 week fetus and collect if I miscarry? Just figuring if we’re going there, we should go all in.” Yes, if that is what the GOP really wants here in America, then they have some real hard, real world situations to account for, and we can only hope that enough people stand up for a woman’s right to choose what is best for her body and vote to protect that right before all of our women have to begin wearing the garments shown in A Handmaid’s Tail because it is no longer just a fictional TV show but real life here in America.
Skibum: Good points! No so very long ago, it was believed that the fully formed human was in the male semen, and deposited in the female womb for simple carriage until birth. The woman was housing only, not capable of participating in real creation. Now, there’s an interesting thought: maybe we should legislate the male semen, you know, make Kleenex illegal when used improperly. Death to millions! Bet the Republicans would have a change of heart if that were to come to fruition. I mean if we’re gonna go back in time, let’s go! :D