Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts tried to change the hearts and minds of his fellow conservative justices to the very end of deliberations in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — which overturned Roe v. Wade back in June and returned the issue of abortion to the states — but was reportedly thwarted by the infamous leaker.
CNN’s New Day found Roberts had regularly tried to convince Associate Justices Brett Kavanagh and Amy Coney Barrett — both Trump appointees — to switch their votes in an effort to preserve Roe, while still allowing the 15-week Mississippi abortion ban brought before the court to stay in effect.
The leak of the draft opinion in early May, however, doomed Roberts’ plan for a moderate approach. As the Justices were forced into solidifying their votes to overturn the 1973 case.
The leak of the 98-page draft opinion written by conservative Associate Justice Samuel Alito was released to Politico on May 3rd – over a month before the decision’s final release.
The same day, the Chief Justice issued a statement calling the unprecedented leak a betrayal and that it was “intended to undermine the integrity of our operations,” adding “it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”
“We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce – permanent employees and law clerks alike – intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law,” Roberts went on to say. “Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court. This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.”
Following the leak, the Chief Justice directed the Marshall of the Supreme Court to conduct an investigation into the incident, to uncover the individual who broke the trust of such a long-standing institution. However, no suspects have been brought forward, no reports released and no new facts have been shared with the public. Justice delayed, it would seem.
With the leaker still at large though — and new reporting showing the drastic impact they had on internal High Court deliberations — the breakdown of trust within the Judicial Branch is having a detrimental effect. Not only on the nine justices but on the confidence the country has in the rule of law.
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