ALBANY, N.Y. (May 3, 2022) — Last night the news organization Politico reported on a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision in the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

While the final opinion, expected this summer, could change, the leaked document seems to presage an end to national abortion rights and instead allow states to individually allow or ban the procedure. The document also inflames already heated arguments about the politicization of the Court.

The University at Albany has experts available to discuss this issue.

Julie Novkov, interim dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, is an expert in public policy, constitutional law and women’s issues. A professor of both Political Science and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Novkov’s research comprises law, history and U.S. political development, especially in relation to identity, such as race and gender.

“Advocates for and against abortion rights, who had been gearing up for the anticipated release of the Supreme Court’s ruling in a Mississippi case this summer, were shocked by Politico’s May 2 release of a document appearing to be a draft opinion penned by Justice Samuel Alito. The draft opinion, which Politico describes as “a full-throated, unflinching repudiation” of both Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, appears legitimately to be an attempt to return abortion regulation entirely to the states. Its release raises serious questions about what is going on inside the Supreme Court, offers hints about where the justices stand on women’s rights to bodily autonomy, and seems to point to a major shift in abortion jurisprudence.”

Christine C. Bird, visiting assistant professor of Political Science, is an expert in Supreme Court politics and the intersection of law and public policy. She holds a PhD in Political Science as well as a law degree, and is a licensed attorney. 

“The leak of the draft opinion written by Samuel Alito only adds fuel to the fire of an already existing legitimacy crisis at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court relies on what scholars call “legitimacy” for its power to enforce its decision – the idea that public confidence and support from the elected branches of government are necessary for the Court’s decisions to be effective. In the wake of the growing discontent over hyper-partisan confirmation battles for seats on the Court’s bench, public opinion supporting the Court is at an all-time low. The leak itself is not the biggest threat to the Court’s legitimacy. Rather it is the public view that justices make decisions based on individual political values rather than as a collective using law and precedent to decide “hard” cases.”