Students, professor weigh in on leaked ‘Roe v. Wade’ Supreme Court opinion

Americans across the country protest after a leaked Supreme Court document shows an opinion draft that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

On Monday, a leaked Supreme Court document containing an opinion draft regarding Roe v. Wade made headlines. The leaked opinion overturns the 1973 decision, which established the constitutional right to an abortion.

The Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document on Tuesday, announcing that it will launch a full investigation to find the source of the leak.

“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”

The drafted opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, is composed of 98 pages written in February 2022.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito writes in the document, found under majority opinion. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Brian Serr, Juris Doctor and professor of law, said while this is an early draft of the decision that will be made in the coming months, this could signal a possible decision to overturn.

“Normally, draft opinion is how the Court appears to want to rule based on the conference after oral argument,” Serr said. “That is not necessarily always the case. There could be a situation where there’s a highly controversial case where justices are floating different drafts. Maybe it’s different drafts that come to the same outcome but with different reasoning, but there is an opinion decided for the state in the current case — could take the form of overruling Roe v. Wade or substantially weakening Roe v. Wade.”

According to the opinion expressed in the leaked draft, Serr said the decision to regulate abortion would then fall to individual states, making it a legislative decision rather than an individual decision, which is currently based on the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, which provides the right to privacy.

“There are two dueling, competing notions of self-government built into the American constitutional framework,” Serr said. “One is self-government through the legislative process, where we elect our policymakers and then they deliberate and argue and vote on what the rule should be. The competing version of self-government, which also has a substantial grounding in the American constitutional structure, is what I call the ultimate right of self-government — me, myself and I, in the form of an individual liberty or an individual freedom. A very important question in the American constitutional system is, ‘Who decides?’”

Round Rock junior and Bears for Life president David Folks said he is excited about this opinion and believes this is a step in the right direction.

“It is such wonderful news to hear that the Supreme Court, after all these years, is finally looking like it’s going to do something about this,” Folks said. “It’s been a terrible decision from the beginning. So for the pro-life movement, this means that abortion restrictions will go to the states, so we will be fighting battles within the states, trying to get complete and total bans as soon as possible in every state that we’re able to.”

Folks said the mission of Bears for Life does not change, regardless of whether the decision of the Supreme Court differs from the leaked opinion.

“We are going to continue being outside Planned Parenthood, praying for the end of abortion, counseling to people in need, ” Folks said. “Continue providing resources, scholarships for people on campus. And advocating for life, trying to change the culture for the positive change, pro-life cause, to protect the pre-born lives, especially here at Baylor and in Waco. And taking legislative measures and going down to Austin to try to participate in whatever that looks like within the state.”

Basalt, Colo., senior and nursing student Jenna Curnow said this opinion is disheartening to hear as a health care worker and as a woman.

“As a health care professional, it’s my job to advocate for my patients and help them make the best decisions for themselves, so it’s not my job to make those decisions for them, nor is it any politician or government leader to make those decisions for somebody else,” Curnow said. “Taking away abortion is just taking away individual’s ability to make their own decisions about their own health care.”

Across the nation, rallies, protests and speeches among party and legislative leaders have commenced with positive and negative responses to the leak. The Supreme Court will make a final decision in the coming months before it recesses for the summer.

“Under Roe v. Wade, the strong assumption is the individual decides,” Serr said. “If Roe v. Wade is overruled, then the strong presumption will be that the legislature decides — that the people decide not as individuals, but the people decide by voting for legislatures, and then those legislatures in turn vote for what the rule should be.”