May 4

By Susan Milligan

President Joe Biden slammed the leaked, draft Supreme Court decision vacating the right to abortion in Roe v. Wade Tuesday as “radical,” saying it reflects “a fundamental shift in jurisprudence” that endangers the right to marry, the right to contraception and other rights tied to the right to privacy.

Biden, speaking to reporters as he boarded Air Force One to head to Alabama, cautioned that he did not know if the leaked draft was the final ruling the high court would hand down. But the text of the decision, penned by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, “goes far beyond the concern of whether or not there is a right to choose,” Biden said.

“If the rationale of the decision, as released, were to be sustained, a whole range of rights are in question,” the president said. “It concerns me a great deal that we’re gonna, after 50 years, decide that a woman does not have the right to choose.”

The draft opinion, which Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged was legitimate, rejects the right to privacy, which was the basis for a landmark decision, Griswold v. Connecticut, that affirmed the right to obtain and use contraception. Griswold was the basis for the 1973 Roe decision upholding the right to an abortion.

Should that legal concept be tossed out, Biden said, all kinds of rights are imperiled, including the right to marry the person of one’s choice, and how to raise one’s children.

“Does this mean, in Florida, they can decide to pass a law saying same-sex marriage is not permissible?” Biden said, referring to a state which has approved both severe abortion restrictions as well as a law banning the discussion of sexual orientation and and gender identity in K-3 classrooms if the talk is age-inappropriate. The state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is also a leading potential contender for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

Biden said he supported codifying the right to abortion in federal law, but would not weigh in on whether the U.S. Senate should ditch the filibuster to do so. Senate Democrats, who hold a de facto majority in the 50-50 chamber, have been unable to muster enough support to carve out a filibuster exception to pass a sweeping voting rights bill.

Roberts said there would be an investigation into the source of the leak, which he called “a singular and egregious breach of the trust” inside the court. But he also noted that such drafts are that — drafts — and may not necessarily reflect the final ruling.