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Constitutional law expert discusses historic leak of Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion

On the "Sound of Ideas," we discuss the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion with a constitutional law expert. [shutterstock/Steven Frame]
On the "Sound of Ideas," we discuss the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion with a constitutional law expert. [shutterstock/Steven Frame]

Much of the nation was stunned on Monday by publication of the draft of a Supreme Court opinion, which, if completed, would overturn the right to abortion, established in the landmark case Roe versus Wade argued in 1971, decided in 1973. Regardless whether you are an abortion-rights supporter or its opponent, Monday's breach was an historic event, first reported by POLITICO, later confirmed by Chief Justice John Roberts, as being a legitimate draft.

Penned by Justice Samuel Alito in February, Roberts said it is not the final draft. Justices can and sometimes do change their votes. The court's decision will not be final until it is officially published, likely in the next two months. 

Chief Justice Roberts called the leak a "betrayal." He said in a statement, "This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here." There have been calls by Roberts, and other leaders, for the US Justice Department to identify and criminally charge whomever leaked the information.

Since Monday, there has been widespread reaction to the possible overruling of Roe v Wade, and a subsequent 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood versus Casey, with some speculation that the interpretation of the Constitution laid out in this draft opinion 'could' cause the court to also roll back the right to same-sex marriage. 

In the aftermath of a Roe reversal, the decision would also have major implications for patients across the country who may be seeking abortions, with about half of all states likely to ban abortion, or to place heavy limits on the procedure. 

Protestors have gathered in places nationwide, and a growing presence in Washington D.C. has lead to increased security at the Supreme Court.

An increasing number of companies have told employees that they would reimburse travel costs for people who cross state lines to gain access to an abortion. That group includes Amazon, Citigroup, Yelp, and the clothing-maker Levi Strauss. 

To start the "Sound of Ideas," we've brought in a constitutional expert to walk us through the events of the last few days, the unprecedented nature of this leak, and the legal issues that would result from the impending Supreme Court decision. 

Jonathan Entin is the Professor Emeritus of Law and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Case Western Reserve University. 

Following our discussion, the second half of the program we'll be discussing the 2022 class of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, announced yesterday. We'll talk Dolly Parton, Eminem, Pat Benatar and more. 

- Jonathan Entin, Professor Emeritus of Law and Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Case Western Reserve University
- David C. Barnett, Senior Arts Reporter, Ideastream Public Media 
- Carrie Wise, Managing Producer for Arts, Ideastream Public Media
- Kabir Bhatia, Senior Repoter, Ideastream Public Media 
- Amanda Rabinowitz, Host "Morning Edition" and "Shuffle", Ideastream Public Media 

Rachel is the supervising producer for Ideastream Public Media’s morning public affairs show, the “Sound of Ideas.”