Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered the head of the United States Supreme Court's Police to investigate the leak of a draft opinion apparently confirming that a majority of the Court has voted to strike down Roe. v. Wade.
The leak is "a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court" and all who work there, Roberts said in a press release. The statement confirmed that the leaked document was authentic but clarified that it "does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case."
Tweet This: "This was a singular and egregious breach of  trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here."
The case at hand is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, concerning Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which bans most abortions at 15 weeks with some exceptions. Dobbs has been watched closely for the possibility of a decision in the case either overturning or at least gutting Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling legalizing abortion in the U.S. throughout pregnancy.
Politico reported Monday that it had obtained the initial draft majority opinion in Dobbs written by Justice Samuel Alito, saying that the document is "a full-throated, unflinching repudiation" of both Roe and the subsequent 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The Politico report said that in a conference the justices held after hearing the Dec. 1 Dobbs oral arguments, Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett had voted with Alito, while Chief Justice Roberts was undecided. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan would be dissenting from the majority opinion. The line-up of the justices remained the same as of this week, the report said.
The leaked document has caused a firestorm over the unprecedented breach of trust it represents in the Court, the revelation of the Court's possible ending of Roe, and for the specter the leak would negatively affect the Court's final decision through resulting intimidation by abortion supporters of justices who had voted to overturn Roe.
Roberts said in his statement Tuesday that any effort toward the latter would fail.
"To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed," he said. "The work of the Court will not be affected in any way."
Tweet This: " .. it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way" - Chief Justice Roberts on the Dobbs opinion draft leak.
The document had been circulated among the justices in February. It is is 98 pages in length with a 31-page appendix of historical state abortion laws, and includes citations of previous court decisions, books and other authorities, and has 118 footnotes.
The draft Dobbs opinion calls for Roe and Casey to be overturned, citing the U.S. Constitution.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," it states. "Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," it says further. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The full Supreme Court statement on the leak is below:
Yesterday, 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. Although the document described in yesterday’s 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.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., provided the following statement:
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.
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. 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.
I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.
Editor's note: Heartbeat International, which filed an amicus brief in the Dobbs case, manages Pregnancy Help News. This is a developing story, PHN coverage of events surrounding the Dobbs case is ongoing and may be updated.