WASHINGTON — Justice Clarence Thomas briefly addressed fierce outcry Friday to a leaked Supreme Court draft decision on Roe v. Wade.
Thomas, part of the court's conservative majority, said society is "becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes, not living with the outcomes we don't like," Reuters reports. "We can't be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want. The events from earlier this week are a symptom of that."
Thomas is the court's longest-serving justice. He referenced the leak only briefly at Friday's 11th Circuit Judicial Conference in Atlanta.
The leaked draft opinion, which would throw out the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling, was published by Politico late Monday. The Supreme Court confirmed the draft's authenticity but cautioned that no final decision had been made. 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.
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. 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.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” the document states, referencing the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey that affirmed Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortion services but allowed states to place some constraints on the practice. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
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A decision to overrule Roe would have sweeping ramifications, leading to abortion bans in roughly half the states, sparking new efforts in Democratic-leaning states to protect access to abortion, and potentially reshaping the contours of this year’s hotly contested midterm elections.