WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court voted privately to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade who guaranteed the right to abortion for almost half a century, according to a leaked draft notice from February published online Monday night by Politico.

In the draft opinion, written by Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., the majority of the court voted to overturn Roe, according to Policy. Justice Alito called it ill-decided and said the contentious issue, which has animated political debates in the United States for more than a generation, should be decided by politicians, not the courts.

“We believe that Roe and Casey should be quashed,” Judge Alito wrote in the document, titled “Opinion of the Court,” referring to a second decision that reaffirmed Roe. “It is time to respect the Constitution and to return the question of abortion to the elected representatives of the people.

The draft published by Politico conforms to the opinions published by the Supreme Court in a general and modest manner, including structure, length, typography and the manner in which legal citations are rendered. His assertive and sometimes cutting tone is very similar to other major opinions of Judge Alito.

The release of the 98-page document is unprecedented in the court’s modern history: first drafts of opinions hardly ever leaked before the final decision was announced, and never in such an important case. And early draft opinions often change by the time the court’s decision is announced.

Shortly after the article was published on Monday night, Politico editor Matthew Kaminski and its editor, Dafna Linzer, sent an email to newsroom workers emphasizing its authenticity. In the memo, Mr. Kaminski and Ms. Linzer said the article had undergone “a thorough review process”, describing it as “clearly news of great public interest”.

If the justices announce a decision along the lines of the leaked first draft, it would be a seismic shift in American law and policy, coming just months before the midterm congressional elections that will decide who controls power on Capitol Hill. .

Abortion has long divided both parties — and the country — though it has receded as a central issue in presidential elections, yet remains a galvanizing issue for many. A court ruling along the lines of the first draft could spur further political battles in Congress and in states across the country over whether and how the procedure should be limited.

The Politico report said the justices voting to support Justice Alito’s opinion were Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The news agency said judges Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were working on the dissents. It was unclear how Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. planned to vote.

Roe v. Wade, who established a constitutional right to abortion in a landmark 1973 case, has been a centerpiece of American jurisprudence ever since. In the language of the court, this is a precedent that has cemented the fundamental rights of women to have access to a legal abortion. Over the years, the court has accepted restrictions on this right, but has not departed from the basic legal standard established by Roe.

The current court – which has six conservative and three liberal justices – has given indications over the past year that it may be willing to reconsider that position.

Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

During the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in December, conservative justices indicated their desire to reduce, or even roll back, federal abortion protections and leave most of the regulation to the states.

In more than two dozen conservative states, lawmakers have prepared bills that would effectively ban abortion if the court overturns Roe v. Wade. If the court adopts Justice Alito’s draft opinion as its final position, it would pave the way for these bills to quickly become law.

The draft opinion presents familiar arguments against Roe. He says the Constitution is silent on abortion and nothing in its text or structure supports a constitutional right to abortion. Roe, the project continues, is so patently wrong that it does not deserve precedent. The right approach, according to the draft, is to refer the matter to the states.

The Mississippi law challenged in the case prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and Judge Alito could have taken a middle ground approach advocated by Chief Justice Roberts during the case’s oral argument in December: uphold the law and leave questions about the fate of the Roes for another day.

According to Justice Alito’s draft, a majority rejected this approach.

If the draft opinion or something like that is eventually published, it will produce divisions in court that could test its legitimacy.

During the argument, the three liberal members of the court said that overriding Roe soon after a change in the composition of the court would damage the authority of the court. Indeed, Judge Sonia Sotomayor said, it would pose an existential threat.

“Will this institution survive the stench it creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? she asked.

“If people really believe that everything is political, how are we going to survive?” she asked. “How will the court survive?

The leaked draft notice rocked Washington on Monday night. The revelations in the draft notice once again place the nine justices at the center of one of the most contentious issues in American life.

But the leak may also be the start of a fierce new political debate before the judges even issue a final ruling.

Conservatives who oppose abortion rights were quick to hail Judge Alito’s findings as the right ones for the country, praising him for the legal reasoning they have been advocating for decades in the court of public opinion.

“We don’t yet know if the Roe ending rumors are accurate, but we do know ending Roe is the right move, throwing the question back to ‘we the people’ from a few judges with an agenda,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “You won’t find ‘abortion’ written in invisible ink in the Constitution, unknown until seven men saw it in 1973. Terminating unborn human life is and always has been a miscarriage of justice. “

Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, tweeted Monday night that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start and I pray the Court will follow the Constitution and allow the states to once again protect unborn life.”

But he also attacked the leaked draft notice, saying the Supreme Court and Justice Department “must get to the bottom of this leak immediately using all necessary investigative tools.”

Democratic lawmakers and liberal activists also criticized the leak. But many quickly seized on the news as a primary reason voters should support Democrats in the fall election.

“If this report is true, this Republican attack on access to abortion, birth control and women’s health care has dramatically raised the stakes in the 2022 election,” said Christie Roberts, executive director of the Committee. Democratic senatorial campaign. “At this critical time, we must protect and extend the majority of Democrats in the Senate with the power to confirm or reject Supreme Court justices.”

Cecile Richards, who served as president of Planned Parenthood from 2006 to 2018 as Congress and state legislatures stepped up restrictions on reproductive health, said “ending legal abortion will not end the abortion. It will just mean that women are no longer safe in this country, and that rests on the feet of the Republican Party. »

On Twitter on Monday evening, the news sparked a debate over which political party could benefit from the early revelation of the court’s eventual decision. Many argued that Democrats would use the report to energize their core constituents.

Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington and a member of her party’s Senate leadership, has promised to do just that.

“After ringing these alarms for years now, it’s time to break the glass,” she wrote in a statement. “We have to fight back with everything we have right now. The right to abortion is at stake and I will never stop fighting to protect it.

The report was provided by Carl Hulse, Emily Cochrane and Elizabeth Dias of Washington, and Kate Zernike, Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson from New York.