White House press secretary Jen Psaki dodged a reporter’s question Wednesday on whether White House condemns the leak of a Supreme Court draft majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
“Does the White House condemn, explicitly condemn this leak or is seeing this draft been seen as welcome by some here?” a reporter asked at the press briefing.
“I don’t think we have a particular view on that other than to say that we certainly note the unprecedented nature of it,” Psaki replied. “What we are mindful of, and I spoke with the president about exactly this question yesterday, and obviously it’s up to the Department of Justice to determine what, if any, action they will take, and I know obviously there have been calls for that by some Republicans but also members of the Supreme Court.”
She added the White House is focused on the content within the Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting an overturning of Roe v. Wade, which could return the decision on rights of abortions back to the states.
“While we have heard a number of raised concerns about the leak, our focus is on highlighting what the content in there would put at risk for women across the country … I would note that many Republicans have wanted to talk about that and not about whether they support the protection of a woman’s right to choose, a woman’s right to make decisions with her doctor about her health care, maybe not a surprise given that by more than a 2 to 1 margin, American want the Supreme Court to support abortion rights.”
The reporter then asked if the White House would accept a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as legitimate and encourage Americans to also support such a ruling if it occurred.
“I can’t speak for what actions could be possible on the legal front, I would point you to the Department of Justice on that,” she said. “But, what I can tell you will happen is — and this is what we’re preparing for the possibility of — that if Roe were to fall, abortion would probably be illegal in about half the states in the country, up to 26 states particularly in the South, Midwest and West who have all spoken out, many leaders, about how they’re poised to restrict or ban access. Some have even taken action even as recently as yesterday.”
Psaki also pointed to some states’ trigger laws that would immediately take effect in banning or restricting abortion if the 1973 landmark decision is overturned. The press secretary warned that tens of millions of women could lack abortion access if such laws take effect. (RELATED: ‘Beyond The Pale’: Bill Barr Says SCOTUS Leak Could Be A Possible Obstruction Of Justice)
She then said the bans would disproportionately impact communities of color and those living in lower income areas, citing data that 75% of women receiving abortions live at or below 200% of the poverty level. She also said a majority of those seeking abortions are black, Hispanic or AAPI.
“It is a prohibitive cost, it will not be safe and that is what we’re focused on working to address as we are making policy decisions and considerations,” she concluded.
In a Tuesday statement, Chief Justice John Roberts announced an investigation by the Marshal of the Court into the leak, calling it a “betrayal” and an attempt to “undermine the integrity” of the Court. Politico published on Monday a copy of the draft opinion written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito calling Roe “egregiously wrong from the start.”
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidence of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Roberts wrote in the statement about the leak. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”
Supreme Court experts also condemned the unprecedented leak, with some insinuating the possibility that a liberal leaked the draft in an effort to influence the Court.