By WCCO-TV Staff

WASHINGTON D.C. (WCCO/CBS News) — The Supreme Court appears ready to overturn its landmark decisions establishing the right to an abortion, according to the report of a draft opinion from Politico, a decision that — if finalized —  would dismantle 50 years of precedent and pave the way for states to severely curtail abortion rights in the United States.

The reported leak of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court is breathtaking and unprecedented in modern times, and has already sent shockwaves through Washington and the nation. Late Monday, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the court.

READ MORE: Thousands Gather At Pro-Abortion Rights Rally In St. Paul

In Minnesota, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz addressed news of the bombshell leak Monday night with a four-word tweet: “Not on my watch.” In a later tweet, Walz said in part, “The right to an abortion will be respected in Minnesota as long as I am in office.”

Senior Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also a Democrat, tweeted that the court is potentially jeopardizing “a fundamental right.”

Democratic Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, who is a former Planned Parenthood executive, released this statement late Monday evening:

“When I worked at Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, I saw firsthand how women had the capacity to make the right decisions for themselves,” she said. “How dare Justice Alito and other Supreme Court justices think they know better. There is nothing more American than the right to freedom, autonomy, and self-determination. Yet the Supreme Court is preparing to strip that away for half the country. President Trump stole two Supreme Court seats. And Republicans will have to answer for their role in this attack on women’s freedom and equality. Let’s get organized and get to work.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Ilhan Omar called for the expansion of the court and said overturning Roe V. Wade would “put the lives of women across the country at risk.”

WATCH: If Roe V. Wade Were Overturned, Would Abortion Still Be Legal In MN?

Planned Parenthood North Central States (PPNCS), whose region covers Minnesota, released a statement calling the reported draft opinion “horrifying,” but noted that abortion is still legal and the draft opinion has no legal authority.

“We all knew the day could come that safe and legal abortion would be decimated in our country, and now we are facing that reality,” Sarah Stoesz, PPNCS president and CEO, said. “It is true that individual Americans may have different moral views on abortion, and this is exactly why the strong majority of people in our country believe that this decision must be left up to individuals themselves. We will not accept this decision without a fight – we are ready and will mobilize, organize, and stand up in every corner of our land. Our voices will be heard. And Planned Parenthood will never, ever abandon our patients. Planned Parenthood is here for good.”

The draft published by Politico indicates it was written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated on February 10. It did not say which other justices joined in the opinion, but Politico noted that a person familiar with the court’s deliberations said four other conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, voted with Alito during closed-door discussions after oral arguments and have not changed their positions. It’s unclear whether Chief Justice John Roberts will join the conservative majority, according to Politico.

The justices could change their votes in the days or weeks leading up to the decision’s release. The Supreme Court’s opinion in the case, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — involving a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks — is expected to be handed down before the justices conclude their term by the end of June or early July.

Politico said it received a copy of the draft opinion “from a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document.”

Chief Justice Roberts Calls Leak A ‘Betrayal’

In a statement Monday night, Patricia McCabe, the Supreme Court’s public information officer, said “the Court has no comment” on the report.

Later, Chief Justice John Roberts released a statement on the leak, saying that the document described in the reports was authentic, but doesn’t represent a decision nor final position of any member.

“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” he said. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”

Roberts says he directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.

READ MORE: Minnesota Senate Dems Try To Force Abortion Debate

A full-scale investigation is expected into the leak of the draft opinion that involves the FBI to determine who was the source.

The justices heard oral arguments in the blockbuster dispute involving the Mississippi law in December, and at the end of the session, a majority of the court appeared poised to allow the state’s measure to stand. It was less clear, though, whether five justices would vote to overturn Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Caseythe 1992 case that reaffirmed Roe’s core holding and said states cannot outlaw abortion before fetal viability, generally considered to be between 22 and 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

But according to the draft opinion leaked to and published by Politico, Alito wrote that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start” and its reasoning “exceptionally weak.”

“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito wrote, according to Politico.

Alito, appointed to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush, concluded: “Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each state from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Case arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

The document denotes the decision is a “1st Draft,” and Alito’s opinion runs 67 pages and is accompanied by a 31-page appendix containing various state statutes criminalizing abortion.

If the Supreme Court overrules Roe and Casey, as the reported draft opinion suggests, it would mark a long-awaited victory for anti-abortion advocates who for decades have called on the high court to reconsider its abortion precedents.

The appointment of three conservative justices by former President Donald Trump — Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett — widened the court’s conservative majority to 6-3, and Mississippi officials then called for the Supreme Court to use their legal battle as the vehicle to overturn Roe and Casey.

The Guttmacher Institute, an organization that supports abortion rights, estimated that 26 states are either certain or likely to ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturns or dismantles Roe. Some already have laws in place that would do so if Roe was struck down, and governors in Oklahoma and Florida each signed new abortion restrictions into law last month.

CBS News poll from November indicated that a majority of Americans supported leaving Roe in place. According to the November poll, if Roe is overturned and the matter is left up to the states, a majority would want abortion in their own state to be legal in all or most cases: more than six in 10 say so. Only 14% would want their state to make it illegal in all cases.

POTUS: ‘We Will Be Ready When Any Ruling Is Issued’

The draft opinion, as reported by Politico, prompted outrage from congressional Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer accused the conservative justices of having “lied to the U.S. Senate” and “ripped up the U.S. Constitution.” Such a ruling, they said, would strip millions of women of their “bodily autonomy and the constitutional rights they’ve relied on for half a century.”

President Joe Biden also released a statement, saying it’s not known whether the draft is genuine, but “we will be ready when any ruling is issued.”

“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” Biden said.

Several Republicans, meanwhile, issued statements Monday night praising the draft opinion but criticizing the leak as damaging to the Supreme Court as an institution.

“The next time you hear the far left preaching about how they are fighting to preserve our Republic’s institutions & norms remember how they leaked a Supreme Court opinion in an attempt to intimidate the justices on abortion,” Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted.

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Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted that the Supreme Court and Justice Department should use “every investigative tool necessary” to get to the bottom of the leak, but added that he prays “the court follows the Constitution and allows the state to once again protect unborn life.”