Supreme Court 'Misleadingly Quotes Me' in Abortion Ruling: Law Professor

Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor of constitutional law, accused the conservative Supreme Court majority of "misleadingly" utilizing his quotes in its controversial Friday decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Conservative Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. The ruling in that case brought an end to nearly five decades of Supreme Court precedent—overturning the landmark 1973 Roe decision and bringing an end to woman's constitutionally protected right to an abortion.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences," Alito argued in his opinion.

Four of the top court's justices concurred with Alito's opinion, while Chief Justice John Roberts concurred with upholding the 15-week abortion ban of Dobbs, but took issue with fully overturning Roe. The Court's three liberal justices together issued a dissenting opinion.

Tribe, who has been harshly critical of the Supreme Court's decision, said the conservative majority opinion misused his quotes to justify its arguments overturning Roe.

"The Dobbs majority misleadingly quotes me on pages 50 and 54 in straining to justify a decision the dissent rightly calls an exercise in 'power, not reason.' Don't be fooled. The writings from which the Court cherry-picked my quotes were totally supportive of the result in Roe," the constitutional law expert wrote in a Friday evening Twitter post.

On page 50, the conservative majority opinion states: "As Professor Laurence Tribe has written, '[c]learly, this mistakes 'a definition for a syllogism.' Tribe 4 (quoting Ely 924). The definition of a 'viable' fetus is one that is capable of surviving outside the womb, but why is this the point at which the State's interest becomes compelling?"

On page 54, it quotes Tribe again, stating: "Laurence Tribe wrote that 'even if there is a need to divide pregnancy into several segments with lines that clearly identify the limits of governmental power, 'interest-balancing' of the form the Court pursues fails to justify any of the lines actually drawn."

Protest at Supreme Court
Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe accused the Supreme Court on Friday of misleadingly using his quotes in its majority opinion overturning "Roe v. Wade." Above, abortion-rights demonstrators protest in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

Newsweek reached out to the Supreme Court's press office for comment.

"Three men — Presidents GHW Bush (Justice Thomas), GW Bush (Justices Alito, Roberts), Trump (Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Alito) — two of whom won with a minority of the popular vote — have done this to tens of millions of women and to the rule of law. This must be undone," Tribe wrote in a follow-up Friday evening Twitter post.

Protests have broken out across the country in the wake of the controversial ruling. Multiple states quickly implemented so-called "trigger laws," which were in place and ready to go the moment Roe was overturned. Meanwhile, states that have already protected legal abortions have taken steps to make them easier to access to women traveling across state lines.

Former President Donald Trump hailed the decision and took credit, describing the ruling as "the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation" in a statement. He said it was "only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court."

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden slammed the decision.

"Now, with Roe gone, let's be very clear: The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk," Biden said in a Friday address at the White House. The president went on to say that the nation's top court "has done what it has never done before: expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that had already been recognized."