Baltimore Sun

Abortion draft leak places unusual public pressure on Supreme Court

- By Lisa Mascaro

WASHINGTON — The traditiona­lly insular Supreme Court is about to face the full force of public pressure and abortion politics as justices make a final decision on whether to throw out the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

The justices are entering a politicall­y explosive new era, drafting what may well be the most consequent­ial opinion on women’s health and privacy in 50 years, while a watchful public primed by the nation’s culture wars tries to influence the outcome.

Justice Samuel Alito appeared to be bracing for the onslaught, stiffening the spines of his conservati­ve court colleagues in his leaked draft opinion for the court’s majority that would overturn the 1973 ruling and its constituti­onal right to abortion.

“We cannot allow our decisions to be affected by any extraneous influences such as concern about the public’s reaction to our work,” Alito wrote in the February draft document that was circulated to fellow justices as they prepare a final decision, expected by June.

At one point this week, more than 1,000 people flooded to the steps of the Supreme Court. In Los

Angeles, police put the city on tactical alert after a confrontat­ion between abortion rights supporters and police downtown. Fresh polling showed most Americans support preserving some access to abortion services.

“Let us fight with everything we’ve got,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a speech at the EMILY’s List political action committee’s national conference.

While President Joe Biden and fellow proponents of abortion access are fired up to defend Roe v. Wade, the pushing is far from one-sided. Republican­s who have labored toward this moment for decades with efforts to fill the court with conservati­ve justices — gaining three during the four years of the Trump administra­tion — are determined to accomplish their goal.

Urging the justices to stick to their process, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised that senators would “have their backs, no matter what.”

It’s unclear if the justices will be swayed by the intense public scrutiny.

However, the disclosure has launched the most dramatic pulling back of the curtain on the high court’s work in modern memory. Not since the 1970s have the Supreme Court’s private deliberati­ons become so public — in fact, the final Roe v. Wade decision leaked hours before it was announced.

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