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Florida politicians react to leaked draft opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade

Florida’s elected officials weigh in on the leak and what it means for abortion in the U.S.
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022, in Washington. A draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a report published Monday night in Politico. It’s unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter.
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022, in Washington. A draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a report published Monday night in Politico. It’s unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter. [ ANNA JOHNSON | AP ]
Published May 3|Updated May 3

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Florida politicians of all stripes reacted swiftly to the news Monday night of a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests the court is in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion.

Somewhat slower was Gov. Ron DeSantis, who did not quickly put out a statement and who largely focused on his concerns about the leak — calling it a “judicial insurrection” — when asked about the draft opinion at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. DeSantis noted there is no final opinion yet from the Supreme Court.

Related: Will Florida Republicans ban abortion? Here's what we know.

Both Florida U.S. Republican senators accused liberals of leaking the draft opinion, though they did not cite any evidence. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the leaked document was authentic but said it doesn’t represent the final decision of the court. He announced an investigation into the leak.

Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted: “The next time you hear the far left preaching about how they are fighting to preserve our Republic’s institutions & norms remember how they leaked a Supreme Court opinion in an attempt to intimidate the justices on abortion.”

Sen. Rick Scott also weighed in on the leak of the draft opinion, saying the leak violates the “sacred” deliberation process of the Supreme Court, free from political interference.

“This breach shows that radical Democrats are working even harder to intimidate & undermine the Court,” he tweeted in part.

Both senators’ certainty about the motivations behind the leak contradicted other theories by some observers of the court who speculated that the leak could just as well have come from a conservative.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, who is challenging Rubio for the Senate, tweeted that striking down Roe v. Wade is “appalling and extremely dangerous.”

She added that “we refuse to go back to being treated as second-class citizens whose personal decisions are made by politicians like Marco Rubio, who has fought relentlessly against the right of Florida women to control their own destiny.”

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The Democratic contenders for Florida governor were quick to weigh in as well, each condemning the draft ruling but offering somewhat different tones.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg said that the decision only ups the stakes for the governor’s race.

“If true, the fight for a woman’s right to choose will be left up to each state to decide … and front and center in this fall’s election. We must defeat DeSantis,” he said in a Monday night tweet.

He also added two tweets about his own history on abortion issues, saying, “As your governor I vetoed an anti-abortion bill. And I’ll do it again if need be — because I will always stand with women.”

It is true that Crist vetoed a bill that would have required an ultrasound before abortions could be performed. But PolitiFact found that his past positions on abortion have been inconsistent.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Crist added that the U.S. Senate should follow the House of Representatives to enact abortion protections in law, “and if need be, end the filibuster to ensure its passage.”

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced a plan for a news conference at the Freedom Tower in Miami Tuesday afternoon. She said she was not asking for money, but was asking for volunteers. She wrote that, “I’m going to do everything in my power to protect the women of Florida and preserve freedom over our bodies — including beating Ron DeSantis.”

State Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, who is also running for governor, said the brunt of the ruling would be felt by “women who cannot afford to cross state lines, the majority of them Black and Brown, to states that allow access to this medical care.”

Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said on Tuesday afternoon that he “long believed Roe v. Wade represents an abuse of power to manufacture law by judicial fiat.”

Sprowls also said the leak represents a breach of trust and lack of honor from the individual responsible. Earlier, Sprowls also retweeted another message from Rubio citing a Bible passage that reads, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”

Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, the House Democratic policy chairperson, said in a news conference Tuesday morning that when she read the news she felt like she “wanted to jump out of my skin.”

She said government seems to think it knows best, even in the most intimate of circumstances, and that it takes lives out of context.

“I don’t think it’s the business of the government to be intervening in this way,” she said.

Driskell was joined by Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, who used to work for Planned Parenthood. Eskamani said the news that the court could be in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade didn’t surprise her. She said legislators like her are ready to fight and make sure “those who pursue this anti-abortion agenda feel the consequences of stripping away our rights.”

Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Lithia, called the draft opinion some of Justice Samuel Alito’s best work. According to the leaked draft, Alito, who is a member of the court’s six-justice conservative majority, wrote the opinion.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, also chimed in on Twitter, saying that the draft opinion returns the abortion issue to the state, “where it belongs.”

“As someone who is committed to protecting the unborn, I will strongly oppose Pelosi’s effort to reinstate Roe through congressional action,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat, said her predictions about Alito during his confirmation hearings came true.

“In 2006, I sounded the alarm bell as a witness in the U.S. Senate confirmation hearing of then-Judge Samuel Alito that, once confirmed, a Justice Alito would be a right-wing extremist who would thrust the government into doctors’ offices and dictate intimate family decisions,” she said.

She said the court decision would “join America’s haunting legacy of destructive and appalling legal rulings that deny basic human and civil rights” and vowed to fight it.

This is a breaking story that may be updated.

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