Political expert discusses ‘rare’ Supreme Court memo leak

WCAX talked with a local political science professor about what could happen if the federal right to an abortion went away.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 6:41 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A leaked memo shows a draft of what could come out of the U.S. Supreme Court when it comes to abortion rights.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the right to an abortion would be left up to the states. Some, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, say lawmakers need to act now. Congress could try to reinstate that right, but University of Vermont Political Science Professor Lisa Holmes says she doesn’t think there’s enough support to get involved one way or the other.

“Prior to Roe v. Wade in 1973, the issue of abortion was generally thought of as something that states got to regulate. So I don’t anticipate any serious action coming out of Congress, and even if Congress did try to intervene, it would get bogged down in litigation,” said Holmes.

Holmes says nothing is a done deal right now since this memo is just a draft, but that a leak like this is rare and done intentionally.

“The presumption is that it was somebody on the other side of this issue affiliated with the Supreme Court, most notably either a justice themselves or a clerk,” she said.

In all likelihood, Holmes says the Supreme Court has the votes to overturn the federal right to an abortion and possibly other affiliated cases. That means states will be making decisions for themselves, although many already have.

In Vermont, state law protects a person’s right to an abortion. And in November, voters will decide on Prop 5, which makes it even more solidified in the state Constitution.

The actual decision on Roe v. Wade is likely to come in the summer, possibly June.

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