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Supreme Court returns to issue rulings for first time since leak in Miss. abortion case

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Supreme Court returns to issue rulings for first time since leak in Miss. abortion case
Women hold signs at a Rally For Abortion Rights in St. Louis, Mo., on Saturday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court was expected to issue orders and opinions on Monday for the first time since the rare leak of one opinion that indicates the court is planning to overturn the landmark abortion decision in Roe vs. Wade.

Close to 40 unresolved cases are still before the high court for the current term, which began in October. Justices were expected to deliver some on Monday, but it's not known exactly when they will render a final decision on Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization -- the Mississippi abortion case that produced the leaked opinion two weeks ago.

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"With about seven weeks until the end of the term and many cases still pending, it's not unusual for the court to have opinion days one or more times per week this time of year," attorney and conservative activist Carrie Severino told Fox News.

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Since the opinion -- which was authored by Justice Samuel Alito in February and had support from conservative justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett -- was reported on May 3, the Mississippi case has been the chief concern among abortion-rights activists and advocates nationwide.

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The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in December, which stems from a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. Under the protection of Roe vs. Wade, states may not interfere with women's rights to an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, however, contends in the case that two Supreme Court precedents -- Roe vs. Wade in 1973 and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey in 1992, which set the standard that there shouldn't be an "undue burden" on abortion access -- were wrong and unconstitutional.

Members of the "Raging Grannies" protest at a demonstration to support abortion rights guaranteed by Roe vs. Wade, in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
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In the leaked ruling, Alito agreed with Fitch's legal rationale and writes that "Roe and Casey must be overruled."

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"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Alito wrote. "Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed debate and deepened division."

If the high court does ultimately strike down Roe vs. Wade, it wouldn't be the first time that it's dismissed significant Supreme Court precedent.

In 1954, the court in Brown vs. Board of Education overturned an 1896 Supreme Court decision and declared that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. In 2015, the court struck down a 1972 decision and declared that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples.

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In his opinion on Roe vs. Wade, Alito particularly seized on a 1943 decision in West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette, which overruled a decision that said that schools could legally compel public students to salute the U.S. flag.

"Barnette stands out because nothing had changed during the intervening period other than the court's belated recognition that its earlier decision had been seriously wrong," he wrote.

The high court is expected to deliver its decision in the Mississippi abortion case -- and, by extension, Roe vs. Wade -- before its term ends in June. Between now and then, it appears that activists on both sides of the issue will continue to make their voices heard.

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Over the weekend, tens of thousands participated in nearly 400 demonstrations across the United States, which were organized under Planned Parenthood's "Bans Off Our Bodies" campaign. More are planned through the end of May and others will surely continue into June.

Some demonstrators have also rallied outside of the private homes of Alito and other conservative justices who joined him in the leaked opinion, prompting the Senate to pass a measure that expanded security protection for the justices and their families.

The first official push by Congress to safeguard legalized abortion failed last week when Senate Republicans voted against a bill that would have codified Roe vs. Wade into federal law. All Republicans and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted against the measure, which needed 60 votes to pass.

President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders have promised to keep working on avenues to guard legalized abortion, while some Republicans have appeared to want to go even farther.

In Louisiana last week, lawmakers ultimately scrapped a proposal that would have charged women with homicide if they terminated a pregnancy through abortion.

Demonstrators march on Supreme Court over abortion rights

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., joins abortion rights activists Tuesday outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the leak of a draft majority opinion suggesting the court would overturn Roe vs. Wade later this year. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

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