Roe v. Wade: Chief Justice Roberts orders investigation into source of ‘egregious’ leak

Shannon Mullen   By Shannon Mullen for CNA


Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is seen prior to President Biden giving his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC. / Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty Images

Washington D.C., May 3, 2022 / 10:12 am (CNA).

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of a leaked preliminary draft opinion in a pivotal abortion case, and ordered an immediate investigation in what he called a “betrayal of the confidences” of the Supreme Court.

The news organization Politico published the 98-page document, written by conservative justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and calling for the overturning of the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, on Monday night.

In a statement released late Tuesday morning, Roberts said he has directed the Marshal of the Court “to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.” Such internal working drafts are supposed to remain strictly confidential, according to the court’s longstanding custom. A final decision in the Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is not expected for another two months at the end of the court’s term.

“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,” Roberts said in the statement.

“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,” the statement continued.

“Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court,” Roberts said. “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.”

Additionally, the court issued the following statement: “Yesterday, a news organization published a copy of a draft opinion in a pending case. Justices circulated draft opinions internally as a routine part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work. Although the document described in yesterday’s report is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”

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