WASHINGTON — When the Supreme Court heard arguments in December over the fate of the constitutional right to abortion, it was already clear that other rights, notably including same-sex marriage, could be at risk if the court overruled Roe v. Wade.
The logic of that legal earthquake, Justice Sonia Sotomayor predicted, would produce a jurisprudential tsunami that could sweep away other precedents, too.
The justices’ questions on the broader consequences of a decision eliminating the right to abortion were probing but abstract and conditional. The disclosure last Monday of a draft opinion that would overturn Roe, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, has made those questions urgent and concrete.
The opinion, by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., provided conflicting signals about its sweep and consequences. On the one hand, he asserted, in a sort of disclaimer that struck a defensive tone, that other rights would remain secure.