Left Unloads After SCOTUS Draft on Roe Leaked

The Roberts Court, April 23, 2021
Seated from left to right: Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Standing from left to right: Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

The political left has come out swinging in the aftermath of the leaking of a February draft Supreme Court opinion that appears to overturn the 1973 high court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which protected abortion, while Chief Justice John Roberts has “strongly” condemned the leak, according to Fox News.

Adding to the drama, Hillary Clinton’s former press secretary—Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice—reportedly speculated that a “brave clerk” was responsible for the leak. Critics of the leak would hardly consider the culprit—whoever it is—as “brave.” But the characterization illustrates the wide chasm between the left and right, and not just on the abortion rights issue.

Speculation is rampant on the leaker’s motive(s), ranging from trying to energize Democrats to turn out at the polls in November to prevent what is shaping up as a political slaughter, to merely an effort to intimidate justices to change their positions and uphold the original Roe v. Wade ruling.

Chief Justice Roberts issued a statement, quoted by Fox News: “To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”

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An investigation was launched almost immediately after Politico broke the story Monday, igniting a furious national debate. While partisans argued for or against the ruling on the cable networks, the real dilemma is that this happened in the first place. The Supreme Court is an institution with a tradition of secrecy about rulings still in the formative stage—the leaked document was a draft, not a final opinion, and experts concur things could change—and now the court process has been violated, and trust has been damaged, perhaps irreparably.

Among the more alarming developments has been the foul attacks on U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who voted to confirm Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. According to Fox News, Collins has been targeted by several people, attacking her with messages on social media laced with F-bombs. Fox described one message, from an actor, as “vile screed.”

Collins said Tuesday she was “misled” by both Kavanaugh and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, who allegedly both offered different impressions of their positions during conversations with her and during their confirmation hearings.

“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,” Collins said in a statement, according to Yahoo News.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) criticized “vicious partisan politicking” during remarks to reporters on Capitol Hill.

“The fact that this draft was leaked, as someone who spent an entire career litigating before the Supreme Court, I’m utterly horrified,” Cruz said, according to Fox News. “I’ve never seen anything remotely like this.”

One thing everyone seemed to agree on is that whoever leaked the draft, apparently authored by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, is in big trouble and if it was a court clerk, that individual’s legal career is over.


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