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Alito?s draft opinion overturning Roe is still the only one circulated inside Supreme Court

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Wade, and there’s no sign that the court is changing course from issuing that ruling by the end of June.Justice Samuel Alito’s sweeping and blunt draft majority opinion from February overturning Roe remains the court’s only circulated draft in the pending Mississippi abortion case, POLITICO has learned, and none of the conservative justices who initially sided with Alito have to date switched their votes. No dissenting draft opinions have circulated from any justice, including the three liberals.That could explain why no second draft of Alito’s majority opinion has been distributed, as typically the two sides react to one another’s written arguments and recast their own.As the nine justices prepare for their scheduled, private, closed-door conference this week, they face one of the greatest crises in modern Supreme Court history, with an internal leak investigation under way, an agitated nation focused on whether the constitutional right to abortion is about to be overturned, and some justices facing angry protests at their homes.“This is the most serious assault on the court, perhaps from within, that the Supreme Court’s ever experienced,” said one person close to the court’s conservatives, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the court deliberations. Under the court’s usual procedures, Roberts could have assigned the majority opinion to himself if he joined the court’s five other GOP appointees to uphold the Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks.However, the draft majority opinion wound up being written by Alito, and its strident text signals it is unlikely Roberts will be on board.That gaping divide on an issue at the forefront of the conservative legal movement for decades threatens to make him a less impactful manager of the judicial branch’s conduct, legitimacy and legacy, many Supreme Court experts contend.“There are certainly signs that this is not really Roberts’ court,” said Thomas Keck, a professor of constitutional law and politics at Syracuse University.“There does seem to be some bitterness among the other justices,” said Curt Levey, a conservative attorney and veteran of several Supreme Court confirmation battles. “There probably was a time when Roberts could’ve convinced one of the other conservative justices [in the pending abortion case.] He might well have succeeded in that a few years ago … Maybe this is the ultimate payback that in the most controversial of all cases and the biggest threat to the legitimacy of the court that he no longer has the persuasive power.”Others say those who expect Roberts to “control” the court misunderstand the job and that a chief justice is little more than a referee.“This isn’t the Army chief of staff,” said Garrow, whose writings on the history of Roe are cited in Alito’s draft opinion.

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