By Callie Hietala
Del. Wren Williams, R-Stuart, was among several lawmakers on Monday to release a statement following the leak of a draft majority opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court which seems to indicate the court is set to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, protecting a woman’s right to an abortion.
Williams said the draft opinion “could be the biggest win for life, liberty, and limited government that we may see in a lifetime. For the past 49 years, under the Supreme Court’s unilateral orders, the murder of 62 million unborn children was legalized and sanctioned—against the will of the American people.
In contrast, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine expressed outrage and disapproval.
Warner, D-Alexandria, took to Twitter after the draft opinion became public, writing “I’m outraged by the reported leaded SCOTUS decision overturning Roe. I believe abortion care is health care, and I’ll keep fighting for that in the Senate.”
In another Tweet posted Tuesday, he wrote, “If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, it won’t stop abortions. It will just cause unsafe abortions.”
Kaine, D-Richmond, also expressed his disapproval of the opinion on Twitter. In one post on Tuesday he wrote, “The draft opinion shows why the Senate GOP denied Merrick Garland a hearing and rushed Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation. 2 stolen seats = Taking away women’s rights. It’s been the goal all along.”
In another post, he wrote, “In the United States, everyone should have the freedom to make their own reproductive health decisions. It shouldn’t depend on your zip code.”
The draft opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, was originally published by Politico, which called the document “a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision—Planned Parenthood v. Casey—that largely maintained that right.”
In the opinion, Alito writes that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey (Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 5-4 decision that reaffirmed Roe in 1992) have enflamed debate and deepened division.
“It is time to heed the Constitution,” Alito continues, “and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives … That is what the Constitution and the rule of law demand.”
The court confirmed the authenticity of the draft Tuesday in a statement: “A news organization published a copy of a draft opinion in a pending case. Justices circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work. Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”
Should Roe be overturned, an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that, according to its mission statement is “committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) worldwide,” concluded that 26 states are “certain or likely” to ban abortion, though Virginia is not listed among those states.
It notes that a number of states have trigger bans—laws designed to take effect automatically or by quick action should Roe be overturned.
Chief Justice John Roberts in a statement, said that he has directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak. He added “to the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.
“We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce—permanent employees and law clerks alike—intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court. This was a singular and egregious breach of trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.”
“The iron curtain is cracking,” Williams wrote. “The Supreme Court recognizes the evident truth—that Roe vs. Wade was terribly decided, that abortion was never a ‘constitutional right,’ and that the American people and their representatives should have the power to protect the right to life of unborn children.
“When this decision is passed down, I will work with my colleagues and fight to protect the unborn here in Virginia on behalf of my constituents. I will never stop fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable among us who have no voice. And I will always stand and vote for Life.”
In a statement released on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said, “I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.”
He noted that after the enactment of Texas law SB 8, “and other laws restricting women’s reproductive rights, I directed my Gender Policy Council and White House Counsel’s Office to prepare options for an Administration response to the continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights, under a variety of possible outcomes in the cases pending before the Supreme Court. We will be ready when any ruling is issued.”
The statement concluded, “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. And it will fall on all 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 will work to pass and sign into law.”