WASHINGTON — Just hours after reports emerged that a majority of justices had voted to strike down Roe v. Wade and the abortion protections it enshrines, scores of protesters began to assemble outside the Supreme Court, flowing into the area well into the early morning hours on Tuesday.
The mood outside the court was a mix of anger and mourning, with some demonstrators sitting silently in front of a long line of candles, while others formed a roving circle, shouting defiant chants about the news.
The scene on early Tuesday echoed the hastily assembled late-night vigil held after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, which even then seemed to cast doubt on the future of abortion rights.
But many who arrived at the court said the leaked document proved that a showdown over abortion rights was imminent.
Jack Lilley, a junior at American University, said he had come immediately after hearing the news, despite being in the middle of finals week.
“It is 12:30 in the morning, and unfortunately, we have to be at the Supreme Court because our government isn’t supporting and uplifting women and we have to use the time that we should be spending studying to be here,” he said.
The crowd that assembled on Tuesday was markedly younger and more vocal than the one that came to honor Justice Ginsburg.
A group of demonstrators with a megaphone shouted expletives toward Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote the leaked draft opinion.
When a small group of people arrived to celebrate the apparent momentum toward limiting access to abortion, a much larger group of protesters moved to drive them away from the area outside the court.
Many who were still arriving at the court early on Tuesday expressed dismay that the court was moving away from what once appeared to be settled law.
“I’m disappointed in the Supreme Court, and I’m disappointed that we found out through a leak,” said Celina Bamper, a law student in Washington. “It just makes the trust in the court completely gone, to find out this momentous decision through a leak — it’s appalling.”