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Leaked SCOTUS Decision Points to Polarization of a Once-sacrosanct Institution  

The unprecedented, explosive leak of a draft Supreme Court ruling has angered pro-choice advocates, raised serious concerns about the sanctity of the court and created one of the most peculiar legal landscapes in modern history.

supreme court 546279 1920To that end, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has ordered the Marshal of the Court to investigate the circumstances surrounding the leaked opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which deals with abortion rights in Mississippi.

“[Recently], a news organization published a copy of a draft opinion in a pending case. Justices circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work,” reads information from the Supreme Court. “Although the document described in … reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”

In a statement, Robert’s said the leak is an act of “betrayal” of the Court’s confidence but vowed its work will not be deterred

“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. 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.”

From Twitter

Ben Shapiro @benshapiro

"Has there been a single major Democrat who has condemned the leak of the SCOTUS decision? One?"

At the heart of the matter is a draft opinion penned by Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn the longstanding federal right to an abortion born from Roe v. Wade. The draft was obtained and provided by news outlet Politico. “We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each state from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” reads the draft. “Roe and Casey arrogated this authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

From Twitter 

Laurence Tribe @tribelaw

"Only in cases involving financial secrets is a leak of a SCOTUS decision minutes before it’s handed down likely to matter much. But a leak of a decision months in advance, while drafts are still flying among chambers, is another matter altogether. https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2022/05/02/leak-time-magazine-roe-wade/"

It is unclear when the Court will issue a final ruling on the matter. Reports indicate the decision was not expected for some weeks, and the incident took place well ahead of any official decision in the Mississippi case.

Recently, constitutional law scholar and Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe offered his take to The Harvard Gazette about the potential consequences of a draft opinion leaking. Tribe addressed the integrity of the Court and the public’s perceptions about it in the wake of such an unprecedented event. Tribe said, though, “obviously partisan divisions within the court” are a greater threat to it than the leak itself.

“The legitimacy of the court ever since Bush v. Gore has been teetering in various ways, and I think the leak itself just reaffirms people’s view that the court is subject to lots of infighting and maneuvering,” he told the news outlet.

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