Who leaked the Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe vs. Wade abortion rights?
Politico has published documents purportedly containing a draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito which recommends the reversal of the 1973 precedent.
Documents shared by Politico late on Monday evening purportedly show that five member of the Supreme Court intend to strike down Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that has served as the basis for abortion rights for nearly half a century.
The report also includes the publication of what is purportedly the full draft opinion offered by Justice Samuel Alito, dated from February 2022, which described the vital precedent as “egregiously wrong from the start.”
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito wrote in the document entitled ‘Opinion of the Court.’ “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Who was the source of the Supreme Court leak?
The emergence of a 98-page full draft opinion is almost entirely unprecedented in the modern history of the Court. No such document has been leaked while a case has been pending and Politico is understandably unwilling to share too many details about the source.
The publication has confirmed that the document was received from “a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document.”
The 98-page opinion includes a 31-page appendix of historical abortion laws in the state of Mississippi, which had brought the challenge to abortion rights currently being considered by the Court. Politico adds that the timing and visual appearance of this draft are consistent with normal Supreme Court practice and documentation.
Conservative commentators point the blame at progressive clerks
We are still only hours after from the emergence of the draft opinion leak and there is little concrete information about the source. However in the aftermath of Politico’s story there has been a groundswell of opinion in the conservative media that the leak may have emerged from a progressive clerk with the Court.
The theory goes that a progressive with access to internal Court documents may have attempted to exert pressure on any wavering conservative voices by sparking public outcry against the decision. This was certainly the opinion of Fox News contributors in the immediate aftermath of the leak, with Jonathan Turley describing it as “the worst type of attack you can launch against the integrity of the Supreme Court.”
However this theory is far from concrete and other have argued that it is more likely to come from a conservative, in the hope of solidifying the Courts position by making it public. Now that Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are known to have supported Justice Alito’s opinion, any reversal could be politically embarrassing for them.
For now we simply don’t know who was responsible for the leak, only that it could be one of the most consequential events in the modern history of the Supreme Court.