Hundreds gathered in front of the Supreme Court to protest after the leak of a draft opinion striking down the precedent that legalized abortion nationwide.
A leaked draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito published by Politico on Monday indicated that Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, is being overturned. Justices could, however, change their votes before a ruling is finalized.
Up to 1,000 people gathered late Monday night into the early Tuesday morning hours in front of the Supreme Court after the disclosure.
“So basically what happened was we got the Politico headline, and 30 minutes later, we were at the Supreme Court building,” 19-year-old Abigail Chase, a student at American University in Washington, told the Washington Examiner.
“Obviously, we were really struck by the fact that it is so rare for a draft of an opinion to be released,” Chase told the Washington Examiner, expressing hope for a big turnout as the night continued.
The initial mood of the protest at the Supreme Court was quiet and somber, with people holding signs and candles.
As the crowd continued to grow in size, a handful of counterprotesters showed up. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, sexist, fascist got to go,” the crowd could be heard chanting.
Protesters yelled pro-abortion rights slogans and cursed conservative justices.
A skirmish outside the Supreme Court following the Roe v Wade news. Several hundred people now here – largely peaceful aside from that encounter so far pic.twitter.com/d1qD4PXjDw
— Zachary Halaschak (@zhalaschak) May 3, 2022
A Washington Examiner reporter saw barricades that had been set up outside the Supreme Court on Monday evening.
Police vehicles could be seen parked on both ends of the Supreme Court’s front side on First Street as the crowds began to gather.
Around 12:30 a.m., what appeared to be a group of anti-abortion activists were chanting and cheering in the middle of a larger pro-abortion rights crowd that surrounded them. They shouted at each other until some jostling took place, whereupon the smaller anti-abortion group was chased out.
Police on bicycles arrived after that. Officers then established a line between where the main group of protesters was located and where the altercation took place for roughly 40 minutes. One of the police officers told the Washington Examiner they arrived in response to a report of a fight.
“I’m not sad. I’m not depressed. I’m angry,” Janeese Lewis George, a Washington councilwoman for Ward 4, said at the scene.