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28 May, 2024
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Furious US Chief Justice confirms leaked draft on abortion rights is authentic

'An egregious breach', John Roberts said he’s directed the Marshal of the Court to hunt down the source of the Supreme Court leak.

source: The Daily Beast

A furious Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed that the bombshell draft opinion leaked to Politico, in which the Supreme Court’s conservative majority moves to overturn Roe v. Wade, is indeed authentic.

Roberts said he’d directed the marshal of the court to hunt down the source of the leak, calling it a “singular and egregious breach” of trust among law clerks and employees of the court.

“To the extent that this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Roberts said in a statement issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”

Roberts said he’d directed the marshal of the court to hunt down the source of the leak, calling it a “singular and egregious breach” of trust among law clerks and employees of the court. The FBI is likely to get involved too, according to CBS News, although it’s not clear what laws may have been broken as it’s generally not illegal to leak such documents.

The unprecedented leak landed with such a seismic impact that Politico warned staff to be careful about anyone following them into office elevators and advised them to remove personal details from any social media accounts identifying them as employees, according to a staff email obtained by The Daily Beast.

In the 98-page draft opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the majority called Roe v. Wade “egregiously wrong from the start,” paving the way for one of the biggest rollbacks of women’s rights in half a century.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” the draft continued. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, did not sign onto the draft. In its statement, the court cautioned that the draft does not represent a final decision or the final position of justices. The draft was written in early February, and the court is not expected to issue its final opinion for a couple of months. It’s also not uncommon for justices to change their position as drafts progress—but the leak nonetheless jolted the nation.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that “a woman’s right to choose is fundamental” and begged voters to turn out in the mid-term elections and vote for pro-choice lawmakers.

“The idea that we’re going to make a judgment that is going to say that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child, based on a decision by the Supreme Court, I think goes way overboard,” he told reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, calling the draft “quite a radical decision.”

Vice President Kamala Harris said the “rights of all Americans are at risk” and the draft opinion previewed “a future in which the government can potentially interfere in the personal decisions you make about your life.”

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers seemed more concerned with the leak. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fumed that Democrats weren’t defending the court’s “independence unconditionally” in the face of what he called a “stunning breach.”

Despite having no idea who the leaker was, he called it “another escalation in the radical left’s ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law.”

Late into the night and early into Tuesday morning, emotions at the Supreme Court were running high. One abortion provider and D.C. resident Kimberly Mohabir told The Daily Beast she was “disgusted” and “scared for women out there.” “It will end in women dying,” she continued before pausing to cry. “It has nothing to do with me but everything to do with the personal stories with every person I have seen.”

Elsewhere, countless Georgetown and American University students had gathered to light candles and hold signs. “It’s exhausting,” Grace, a Georgetown student, told The Daily Beast, a feeling shared by many present early into the morning.

Another Georgetown student told The Daily Beast that they would stay at the Supreme Court indefinitely, even while final exams were going on this week. Demonstrator Patricia Equino, holding a Bart Simpson-inspired sign, told The Daily Beast she “felt a mix of shock and anger.”

For Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the GOP lawmaker who cast the deciding vote for Justice Brett Kavanaugh after being assured he’d uphold Roe, the realization that she may have been played by two nominees apparently came as a shock.

“If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office,” she said Tuesday.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the pro-choice Republican from Alaska, told The Washington Post that though she considered the leak “reprehensible,” the ostensible decision “rocks my confidence in the court right now” if it ends up being final. She was reported to have declined to say if Kavanaugh had also lied to her.

The draft opinion is from the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and rules that Mississippi has the right to ban abortion after 15 weeks. 

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