Roe v. Wade: Why was draft opinion suggesting Supreme Court will overturn abortion ruling leaked?

All eyes are on the Supreme Court Tuesday following a leaked report suggesting they could be poised to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.

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Abortion rights supporters gathered Monday night in the nation's capital and stayed well into the morning chanting and holding signs after Politico published what it said was a draft of an opinion in a major abortion case that was argued in the fall.

The document was labeled a "1st Draft" of the "Opinion of the Court" in a case challenging Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks -- a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

The draft opinion in effect states there is no constitutional right to abortion services and would allow individual states to regulate or outright ban the procedure.


It is unclear if the draft represents the court's final word on the matter. Nevertheless, the report represents an extremely rare breach of the court's secretive deliberation process.

"The leak of a draft opinion while a case is still pending before the Supreme Court is an enormous breach of trust – either among the justices or the staff or whoever have access to the opinion," said FOX 5's chief legal correspondent Katie Barlow.

Barlow said several theories are circulating as to why the leak may have occurred. One theory suggests a clerk may have leaked the opinion in an attempt to persuade a member of the majority to switch positions. Another theory says a leak may have happened to persuade a member of the majority who may be wavering on their vote.

Another theory suggests that perhaps the leak happened to get the matter in the American psyche well before the mid-term elections.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman said the court had no comment. Votes and opinions in a case aren't final until a decision is announced or, in a change wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, posted on the court's website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.