Republicans Focusing on SCOTUS Leak, Democrats on Rule of Law: Report

The two parties are adopting sharply different messages on a leaked Supreme Court opinion that would repeal federal abortion rights, with Democrats focused on the document's consequences and Republicans that it was illicitly disclosed.

The disparate responses from each party were on display a day after the bombshell opinion was published. Now, Republicans are seeking to steer the conversation to the leak's potential damage to the court's deliberative process. Democrats, meanwhile, are focused on how the opinion would shatter a decades-old precedent protecting abortion rights.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell advised his fellow Republicans on Tuesday at a private lunch that if they felt uncomfortable speaking to the contents of the draft opinion to instead talk about the effects of the leak, Politico reported, citing unnamed attendees.

Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren
Mitch McConnell (L), Chuck Schumer (M) and Elizabeth Warren (R). The two parties are adopting sharply different messages on a leaked Supreme Court opinion that would repeal federal abortion rights, with Democrats focused on the document's consequences and Republicans that it was illicitly disclosed. Win McNamee / AlexWong / Patrick Semansky / Getty Images

Speaking to reporters, McConnell seemed to follow his own advice when asked if he would seek federal abortion restrictions if Roe v. Wade were struck down, according to Politico.

"You need, it seems to me, a lecture to concentrate on what the news is today," McConnell said. "Not a leaked draft, but the fact that the draft was leaked."

Republican Senator Josh Hawley similarly homed in on the leak during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, saying the person who disclosed the document was seeking to change the outcome of the court's decision.

"Really? You think the whole issue is about a leak?" Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren told CNN. "This is about five extremist justices ... at least two of them swore up and down that they cared about the rule of law and Roe v. Wade is settled law."

An angry Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said during a news conference Tuesday that Republicans were "shamefully scrambling to try and distract from the main issue."

"Republicans are spending all their focus on the leak because they don't want to talk about Roe v. Wade, where they know they're on the wrong side of history, and on the wrong side of the American people," said Schumer.

Calling the reported opinion an "abomination," he said more than 80 million women would be affected by the more than 20 states that have laws outlawing abortion should the Supreme Court invalidate Roe v. Wade.

Schumer drew a straight line between the opinion and Republicans "pushing extremist judges and justices while claiming this day would never come."

The New York Democrat said the Senate would vote on legislation codifying abortion rights into law.

But the legislation faces long odds in the evenly divided chamber. Advancing the bill will require 60 votes to overcome the legislative filibuster, unlikely considering that Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine are the only GOP senators who support abortion rights.

Democrats could overturn the filibuster with 50 votes. But the GOP senators and Democratic moderates Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said Tuesday they want to keep the filibuster in place.

Newsweek has reached out to McConnell's office for comment.