Monday night's news of a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion, suggesting a majority of justices are poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, drew quick, sharp criticism from Democratic elected officials in Minnesota and a generally muted response from Republicans.
“Not on my watch,” tweeted Gov. Tim Walz. “All of the leading Republican candidates for governor have pledged to ban abortion in Minnesota if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this summer. I won't,” Walz tweeted from his campaign account.
“This is bullsh**,” tweeted Sen. Tina Smith (without the asterisks). In a statement Smith elaborated: “When I worked at Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, I saw firsthand how women had the capacity to make the right decisions for themselves. How dare Justice Alito and other Supreme Court justices think they know better.”
On CNN, Sen. Amy Klobuchar was asked to respond to clips of former President Donald Trump's three Supreme Court nominees suggesting at their confirmation hearings that Roe was settled law.
“They arguably used this to convince certain senators to vote for them. I think that is a major problem,” Klobuchar said. “They said it was the law of the land. They are talking about the fact that it's been affirmed time and time again. And that's why I think a lot of people are shocked. I will tell you that I'm not shocked because you could see this in the way the questioning went.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted that "overturning Roe would put the lives of women across the country at risk. It would fly in the face of decades of precedent and the overwhelming majority of public opinion. And they will not stop here." She called for the Supreme Court to be expanded, and for Congress to abolish the Senate filibuster and pass legislation codifying Roe v. Wade.
Republicans were generally quieter. A couple of the GOP candidates for governor took to Twitter.
“It took Tim Walz days to respond to the riots but just a couple minutes to fire off a 'not on my watch' tweet about abortion. It’s time to return real leadership to Minnesota!” Scott Jensen tweeted. Jensen told MPR News in a recent interview that if he were governor he would try to ban abortion in Minnesota if the court overturns Roe.
Another GOP candidate, Neil Shah, also responded to Walz. “On my watch,” Shah tweeted.
What happens in Minnesota
While the leaked document — first reported Monday by Politico — is only a draft, if the court goes ahead and overturns Roe v. Wade, nothing would change immediately in Minnesota.
That's in large part because of a different court case: Doe v. Gomez. In 1995 the Minnesota Supreme Court heard a case brought by "Jane Doe," who was a stand-in for "all women in Minnesota." Doe challenged a law that excluded abortion coverage from the state's health care plans for low-income people.
The court ultimately ruled in favor of Doe, writing that "the discriminatory distribution of the government benefits can discourage the exercise of fundamental liberties just as effectively as can an outright denial of those rights through criminal and regulatory sanctions."
Minnesota's Supreme Court went a step further than the federal courts, requiring the state to pay for abortions for low-income women who receive state assistance.
That means, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned at the national level, Doe v. Gomez still establishes abortion as a constitutional right in Minnesota. The only way it can be undone in Minnesota would be through an amendment to the constitution or a decision by the court to overturn its own precedent, which is rare.
But that doesn't mean there wouldn't be repercussions in Minnesota.
Laura Hermer, a professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, noted that nearby states may ban abortions, sending more people seeking them into Minnesota.
"And you can't just increase capacity. It takes time, it takes effort — there's a lot of work that needs to be done," she said. "And so as people come to Minnesota for abortions, abortion in Minnesota, for Minnesotans, is going to become more difficult to get."
News of the leaked opinion was welcomed cautiously among Minnesota groups opposed to abortion.
Brian Gibson is executive director of Pro-Life Action Ministries in St. Paul, a group that has publicly opposed abortion services in Minnesota for decades. He says he's confident that Minnesotans, and people across the U.S., will eventually take comprehensive action against abortion.
"This is where the people finally get to decide — and that I think is the good news in all this, is that we can let the people decide on abortion, finally,” he said.