Update: Biden blasts ‘radical’ draft opinion on abortion; Roberts orders probe into ‘egregious’ leak

<p>President Joe Biden speaks to the media before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Alabama to visit a Lockheed Martin plant, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. </p>

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Joe Biden speaks to the media before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Alabama to visit a Lockheed Martin plant, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday blasted a “radical” draft Supreme Court opinion that would throw out the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling that has stood for a half century and warned that other rights including same-sex marriage and birth control are at risk if the court follows through. Across the nation, Americans grappled with what might come next.

The court confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft, which was dated to February, and Chief Justice John Roberts said he had ordered an investigation into what he called an “egregious breach of trust.” A court statement emphasized that the draft is not the justices’ final word.

Opinions often change in ways big and small in the drafting process, and a final ruling has not been expected until the end of the court’s term in late June or early July.

A decision to overrule Roe would lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, spark new efforts in Democratic-leaning states to protect access to abortion, and potentially reshape the contours of this year’s hotly contested midterm elections.

The draft was published by the news outlet Politico late Monday.

<p>In this April 23, 2021, file photo Chief Justice John Roberts sits during a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington. </p>

AP file

In this April 23, 2021, file photo Chief Justice John Roberts sits during a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington. 

Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One, Biden said he hoped the draft wouldn’t be finalized by justices, contending it reflects a “fundamental shift in American jurisprudence” that threatens “other basic rights” like access to birth control and marriage.

He added: “If this decision holds, it’s really quite a radical decision.” He said the “basic fairness and the stability of our law demand” that the court not overturn Roe.

“If the court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Biden said. “And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November. At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”

Though past efforts have failed, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he intended to hold a vote.

“This is as urgent and real as it gets,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Every American is going to see on which side every senator stands.”

Whatever the outcome, the Politico report late Monday represented an extremely rare breach of the court’s secretive deliberation process, and on a case of surpassing importance.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” the draft opinion states. It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

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. It would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or outright ban the procedure. Full coverage:

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