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Executive and legislative branch members react to Roe v. Wade threats


The leak of a draft Supreme Court majority opinion to overturn legalized abortion, a political earthquake, is now making its way through Washington. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the draft and ordered an investigation of the leak, which he said in a statement is a betrayal. President Biden said this morning he's worried about broader threats to issues such as marriage equality. Top Democratic leaders in Congress have taken aim at conservative justices who they say lied to Congress that Roe v. Wade was settled precedent. Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer taking aim at Republicans and their leaders, who he accused as the enablers.


CHUCK SCHUMER: Every Republican senator who supported Senator McConnell and voted for Trump justices, pretending that this day would never come, will now have to explain themselves to the American people.

MARTÍNEZ: This comes after Politico published what appears to be an initial draft majority opinion led by Justice Samuel Alito, which, we should say, could change before a final decision is released. Joining us to discuss is NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. What are we hearing from congressional Democrats this morning?

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: We're hearing just utter fury. Schumer was the first to address it on the Senate floor today, calling this a dark and disturbing morning.


SCHUMER: The Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years, not just on women but on all Americans. Under this decision, our children will have less rights than their parents.

GRISALES: Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a joint statement last night saying, quote, "Several of these conservative justices who are in no way accountable to the American people have lied to the U.S. Senate, ripped up the Constitution and defiled both precedent and the Supreme Court's reputation." Now, again, we should note NPR has not independently confirmed Politico's reporting here, and if this is a legitimate draft, the opinion could change before it's finalized in the coming weeks.

MARTÍNEZ: All right, so that's Democrats. Where do Republicans stand on last night's leak?

GRISALES: You know, that's not as clear. For now, they're diverting attention to the leak itself, such as Senate Majority - I'm sorry, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is pushing for a Justice Department investigation into this leak. But as we know, this was not illegal to share this draft opinion. And as we also know, Chief Justice Roberts did order a probe into how this happened. That all said, this makes for an unpopular decision politically when we look at the polling on this issue out there, and it will be tricky how Republicans will be able to play this in the coming months before the midterm election.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, it's just six months away. What do you think this means for that?

GRISALES: There is some talk that this could energize voters who disagree with this opinion, and for certain, it reshapes the debate. For example, Democrats now have a clear-cut rallying cry to get voters to the polls, and Republicans could now find themselves in a new defensive position to fend off alarm over this opinion among the electorate. But it could turn the tide - in terms of whether it could turn the tide when it comes to expectations that, for example, Republicans could take over the House next year - maybe not, but still, that remains to be seen.

MARTÍNEZ: And what, if anything, can Congress do this year?

GRISALES: Schumer said the Senate could vote to codify a woman's right to abortion access, and every American is going to see where every senator stands on this issue. But let's be clear. Senate Democrats - their hands are tied when it comes to moving such legislation forward or to blow up the filibuster requirements that limit their ability to do so. And that leaves the House without much recourse here as well, even if they have the votes there to approve new bills.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Thanks a lot.

GRISALES: Thank you much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.