Roberts calls leak ‘absolutely appalling’ and slams ‘one bad apple’ who tried to sway Roe decision
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts sounded off about the Roe v. Wade opinion leak on Thursday in a private meeting, calling it ‘absolutely appalling.’
Roberts, in remarks to judges and lawyers in Atlanta first reported by CNN, underscored that he hoped ‘one bad apple’ would not change ‘people’s perception’ of the high court.
He called the ‘person’ or ‘people’ who leaked the document ‘foolish’ if they thought it would sway votes on the court.
Earlier this week Roberts announced an investigation into the source of the ‘betrayal.’
‘I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak,’ Roberts wrote in a Tuesday statement.
The chief justice decried the leak as an ‘egregious breach’ and an ‘affront to the court.’
‘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,’ Roberts said.
‘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.
Roberts, in remarks to judges and lawyers in Atlanta first reported by CNN, underscored that he hoped ‘one bad apple’ would not change ‘people’s perception’ of the high court
Roberts did not want to overturn Roe, meaning he would have dissented from the other five conservative justices in Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion, according to CNN. Last fall during arguments for the case at the center of the matter, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Roberts seemed to be looking for a way to uphold Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks without overturning Roe.
Meanwhile tall fencing started going up around the Supreme Court in northeast Washington, D.C. on Wednesday evening as tensions rose between protesters following the leak of a draft opinion that signaled an impending overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Workers erected the massive fencing around the perimeter of the marble building just east of the U.S. Capitol building as Justices began canceling public appearances amid warnings protests could get increasingly violent.
Left-wing groups are planning to send activists and protesters to the homes of conservatives justices.
An activist group called ‘Ruth Sent Us’ has published the supposed addresses of Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thmas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Chief Justice John Roberts and are planning a ‘walk-by’ of their homes next Wednesday, May 11.
‘Our 6-3 extremist Supreme Court routinely issues rulings that hurt women, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ and immigrant rights,’ the group’s website reads. ‘We must rise up to force accountability using a diversity of tactics.’
Politico published on Monday evening what appeared to be a photocopy of a draft opinion from February 4 in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – the opinion by conservative Justice Alito would put an end to the 50-year landmark abortion ruling giving women a constitutional right to terminate their pregnancies.
In the fallout from the leak, Alito scrapped plans to participate in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judicial conference starting on Thursday, as the associate justice is tasked with reviewing emergency appeals from the 5th Circuit.
It is still unclear if Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas, who were slated to get remarks at a similar conference for the 11th Circuit on Thursday and Friday, will still appear.
Fencing to keep protesters away from the entrances of the Supreme Court is similar to what was erected around the U.S. Capitol following the January 6, 2021 riot.
Senator John Cornyn introduced a bill Thursday to provide additional protections for Supreme Court justice, including 24/7 security detail.
‘It’s not just an attack against the independence of the judiciary. This risks violence against members of the Supreme Court and their families,’ Cornyn said upon introducing the bill.
Pro-life activists pray in a circle outside the Supreme Court on Thursday, May 5, 2022 after massive fencing was erected around the perimeter of the building following a leak of a decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade
The National Day of Prayer on Thursday saw pro-life demonstrators descend outside the fencing around the Supreme Court Building
Fencing was erected around the Supreme Court Building on Wednesday evening after warnings of violence and civil unrest ensued following the leak of a draft opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Pictured: Non-scalable fencing is shown around the Supreme Court on the morning of Thursday May 5, 2022
A runner jogs past massive fencing now around the perimeter of the Supreme Court on Thursday morning
Metro Police activated their protest units amid large demonstrations in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday
Workers erect massive fencing around the perimeter of the Supreme Court building on Wednesday May 4, 2022 in the fallout of the leak showing an impending overturn of Roe v. Wade
Fencing is reminiscent of the barrier put up around the U.S. Capitol after the January 6 riot. It is not clear how long the fencing will remain around the court
Pro-choice protesters continued to demonstrate outside the Supreme Court Building on Thursday morning – even as fencing was set up to protect the building and justices and their staff
‘I introduced a piece of legislation to enhance the authorities of the Supreme Court law enforcement agencies to provide protective details for the judges and their families, who’ve already been threatened with violence.’
‘Because we deal in these matters on a daily basis, to make that kind of threat to the Supreme Court is an attempt to intimidate the Justices and a threat to judicial independence,’ Cornyn said in a statement on the legislation.
Immediately after the leak was published on Monday evening, pro-abortion protesters descended on the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, conservative Chief Justice Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion and ordered an investigation into the leak by Col. Gail A. Curley, the 11th marshal of the United States Supreme Court.
Clashes between pro- and anti-abortion demonstrators became increasingly heated, leading Metro police to activate protest units amid large demonstrations in front of the building Tuesday.
Although D.C. is ground zero for the demonstrations, law enforcement authorities across the country are preparing for possible violence and civil unrest.
According to intelligence bulletins and internal reports from across the nation obtained by Yahoo News, authorities are on alert for fallout from the impending ruling.
The fencing put up on Wednesday night is described as ‘un-scalable’ and is meant to keep demonstrators at arms length of the court as left-wing activists organize a ‘walk by’ of conservative justices’ homes in Virginia and Maryland
The tall fences are meant to keep pro- and anti-abortion demonstrators clear of the building after protests and clashes got increasingly violent in recent days
A forklift brings in un-scalable fencing on Wednesday evening to replace barricades that were set up outside the Supreme Court
Clashes between pro- and anti-abortion demonstrators became increasingly heated, leading Metro police to activate protest units and justices to cancel public appearances
Workers assemble non-scalable fencing around the Supreme Court – just east of the U.S. Capitol building in northeast D.C.
The fencing encompasses the entire perimeter of the Supreme Court
Police monitored the continued protests outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday evening
A February situational awareness bulletin from the Colorado Information Analysis Center warns challenges to Roe v. Wade could lead to unrest and violent incidents.
‘Law enforcement and public safety officials should anticipate an increase in abortion-related events, rallies, and protests with the potential for violence and criminal activity, particularly leading up to and directly following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mississippi case,’ the bulletin noted.
A decision on the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is expected by June.
For years the FBI has tracked extremists on both sides of the abortion issue.
The bureau’s Domestic Terrorism Reference Guide on Abortion-Related Extremists was widely circulated in November 2021 and looks at the threats stemming from both sides of the heated argument.
‘Abortion-related violent extremists seek to further their pro-life or pro-choice ideologies through the threat or use of force or violence against individuals or facilities which provide services in opposition of their beliefs,’ the guide notes.
It adds: ‘Pro-life extremists believe force or violence is necessary to save the lives of the unborn. Pro-choice extremists believe it is their moral duty to protect those who provide or receive reproductive health care services.’
Pro-abortion protesters remained outside the Supreme Court late into Wednesday evening
Police units across the country are on high alert for civil unrest and potential violent incidents related to the impending abortion ruling. Pictured: Police monitor abortion-related protests outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday, May 4
While Republicans are pleased with the content of the draft opinion, they are furious over the leak.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz claims the Supreme Court leak is the doing of an individual ‘woke left-wing twit’ and claims the person responsible for the chaos unleashed in America on Monday evening should be disbarred and put in jail.
‘In over 200 years of our nation’s history, that has never happened,’ he told Fox Primetime host Brian Kilmeade on Wednesday.
‘And there was one woke little left-wing twit who decided, to hell with his or her obligations to the justice they work for, to hell with their obligations to the court, to hell with their obligations to the rule of law, that they would instead try to sneak it out in order to put political pressure on the justices and intimidate them into changing their votes,’ he added.
Cruz, after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1995, clerked for Judge J. Michael Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and then for the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice at the time William Rehnquist from 1996 to 1997.
A worker finishes securing un-scalable fencing outside the Supreme Court on Thursday morning
He told Fox News on Wednesday that it’s ‘difficult to overstate how destructive this is to the Supreme Court.’
Trump administration Attorney General Bill Barr on Wednesday called the act of leaking a bombshell Supreme Court memo an ‘unforgivable sin.’
Republicans argue that the leak has destroyed the sanctity of the Supreme Court, which for most of its history has remained free of political influence and partisan bickering that is more common in the executive and legislative branches.
‘We’re going to find this person, and when they’re found, they’re going to be fired on the spot, they will be disbarred if they’re a member of the bar, or they will never be admitted to the bar to be a lawyer, and to the extent that they’ve broken criminal laws, they need to be prosecuted and sent to jail,’ Cruz said.
Cruz thinks that the leak came from one of the four clerks for each justice.
‘I think the chances are zero that it is a justice,’ Cruz said. ‘I cannot believe any justice would be [party] to such a grave betrayal of the institution.’
‘I think it is a law clerk, and I think it is very likely a law clerk for one of the three liberal justices. That means there are 12 likely suspects,’ he added.
The draft opinion showed five of the six conservative justices in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade – with only Roberts breaking from his colleagues to join the three liberals on the bench in the dissent.
The draft signed by Justice Alito said ‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.’
‘Last night’s stunning breach was an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court ,’ Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a Tuesday statement calling for the leaker to be brought to justice. ‘By every indication, this was yet another escalation in the radical left’s ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law.’
When speaking at a press conference on Capitol Hill, McConnell slammed the press for focusing their coverage on the contents of the leaked draft opinion and not the astounding and unprecedented fact that a Supreme Court document was leaked in general.
‘I think the story today is an effort by someone on the inside to discredit the institution of the Senate, which continues a pattern that we’ve observed over the last several years,’ the leader explained.
He then listed examples of the increased pressure from Democrats to politicize the Supreme Court: ‘[Democratic] Leader Schumer over on the steps of the Supreme Court calling out justices by name. Sheldon Whitehouse and others calling amicus briefs, threatening the court, efforts to pack the court, efforts to have term limits on court justices.’
The opinion draft was written by Justice Samuel Alito. He canceled a public appearance on Thursday amid fallout from the leak
‘What’s unique about today,’ McConnell continues, ‘is this is the first time that we’ve had someone on the inside try to attack the institution.’
He reminded the press, ‘You need – it seems to me, excuse the lecture – to concentrate on what the news is today. Not a leaked draft, but the fact that the draft was leaked.’
Democrats, on the other hand, are not worried about the breakdown of usual Supreme Court practice or catching the leaker and instead are calling for codification of Roe v. Wade.
The 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case resulted in a decision that made abortion a federal protected constitutional right.
In recent years, red states have tried to chip away at that rule by limiting abortion rights to time periods in which a woman may not even be aware that she is pregnant.
President Joe Biden vowed to protect women’s rights to an abortion should the decades-old ruling be overturned.
Vice President Kamala Harris furiously lashed out at Republicans for trying to ‘deny women their freedoms’ in remarks Tuesday evening after a Supreme Court leak showed a conservative draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
In her first appearance after testing positive for COVID-19 last month, Harris was ironically speaking to gala attendees for EMILY’s List – a political action committee that aims to get Democratic female candidates election who are favor of advancing abortion rights.
Her remarks came 24 hours after the Supreme Court leak.
If Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts (center bottom) votes with liberals against overturning the landmark abortion case, the five remaining conservative justices (circled in red) will still have the numbers to reverse the decision with a 6-3 conservative majority bench
Pro-abortion protesters clashed with pro-life activists outside the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 after the leak showed conservatives on the court are potentially on track to overturn Roe v. Wade
‘Roe v. Wade in its power has protected a woman’s right, her right, to make decisions about her own body for nearly half a century,’ Harris said to the room of progressives Tuesday evening.
‘If the court overturns Roe v. Wade, it will be a direct assault on freedom, on the fundamental right of self-determination to which we are all entitled as Americans.’
‘Those Republican leaders who are trying to weaponize the use of the law against women. Well we say, how dare they?’ Harris told the cheering crowd. ‘How dare they tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body? How dare they? How dare they try to stop her from determining her own future? How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms?’
‘It has never been more clear which party wants to expand our rights, and which party wants to restrict them,’ Harris continued, vowing Democrats are ‘not going back.’
She laid out for voters a choice in the 2022 midterm elections between two very differing views on abortion.
If Roe v. Wade were overturned by the 6-3 conservative majority Supreme Court the decision on lawmaking surrounding abortion would go to the states – meaning more liberal states would likely see less of an impact than red states where lawmakers and constituents push for a full ban.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll taken in the day following the leak showed that 50 percent of Ameircans do not want Roe v. Wade overturned and only 28 percent want it overturned.
Roe v. Wade: Which US states could make abortion illegal if landmark 1973 law is overturned… and what would it mean for women in America? Vital Q&A on looming Supreme Court decision
The Supreme Court is poised to strike down the right to abortion in the United States, according to a bombshell leaked draft of a majority opinion that suggests it may be poised to overturn the famous Roe v. Wade ruling.
The 98-page draft revealed by Politico calls the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision – which held that access to abortion in the US is a constitutional right – ‘egregiously wrong from the start’.
Abortion rights have been under threat in recent months as Republican-led states move to tighten rules – with some seeking to ban all abortions after six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant.
These include Arizona, where the Republican Governor in March signed a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy; and Idaho where the governor signed a six-week abortion ban that allows family members of the foetus to sue providers who perform abortions past that point, similar to a Texas law enacted last year.
The draft was written by Justice Samuel Alito and has been circulating inside the conservative-dominated court since February. The leak of a draft opinion while a case is still pending is an extraordinary breach.
The court is expected to rule on the case before its term is up in late June or early July. Here, DailyMail.com looks at what the latest developments mean – and the history of abortion laws in the US:
WHAT IS ROE V. WADE?
The Roe v. Wade decision nearly 50 years ago recognised that the right to personal privacy under the US Constitution protects a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy.
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court decided that the constitutional right to privacy applied to abortion.
Roe was ‘Jane Roe,’ a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey, a single mother pregnant for the third time, who wanted an abortion.
She sued the Dallas attorney general Henry Wade over a Texas law that made it a crime to terminate a pregnancy except in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life was in danger.
Roe’s lawyers said she was unable to travel out of the state to obtain an abortion and argued that the law was too vague and infringed on her constitutional rights.
Filing a complaint alongside her was Texas doctor James Hallford, who argued the law’s medical provision was vague, and that he was unable to reliably determine which of his patients fell into the allowed category.
The ‘Does’, another couple who were childless, also filed a companion complaint, saying that medical risks made it unsafe but not life-threatening for the wife to carry a pregnancy to term, and arguing they should be able to obtain a safe, legal abortion should she become pregnant.
The trio of complaints – from a woman who wanted an abortion, a doctor who wanted to perform them and a non-pregnant woman who wanted the right if the need arose – ultimately reached the nation’s top court.
The court heard arguments twice, and then waited until after Republican president Richard Nixon’s re-election, in November 1972.
Only the following January did it offer its historic seven-to-two decision – overturning the Texas laws and setting a legal precedent that has had ramifications in all 50 states.
WHAT HAS THE SUPREME COURT DECIDED NOW?
The Supreme Court has not decided anything yet, but a draft opinion reportedly circulated among court justices suggests that it may be poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
A document labelled ‘Opinion of the Court’ shows a majority of the court’s justices earlier this year threw support behind overturning the 1973 case that legalised abortion across the country.
According to Politico – who published the ‘leaked document’ – the draft opinion shows the court voted to strike down the landmark case. However, it is unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter.
The paper was labelled ‘1st Draft’ of the ‘Opinion of the Court’ and was said to be referring to a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks – a case known as Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation.
The Supreme Court has yet to issue a ruling in the case, and opinions – and even justices’ votes – have been known to change during the drafting process.
The court is expected to rule on the case before its term is up in late June or early July.
The draft is signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, who was appointed by former President George W Bush.
‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,’ the draft opinion states.
It in effect states there is no constitutional right to abortion services and would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or outright ban the procedure.
HAVE THERE BEEN OTHER RULINGS SINCE 1973?
On the same day as the Roe v. Wade decision, the justices also ruled in the separate ‘Doe v. Bolton’ case, which authorised each state to add restrictions to abortion rights for later-term pregnancies.
The constitutional right to abortion was later confirmed in a number of decisions, including ‘Webster v. Reproductive Health Services’ in 1989 and ‘Planned Parenthood v. Casey’ in 1992.
In the latter, the court guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion until the foetus is viable outside the womb, which is typically around 22 to 24 weeks of gestation.
The Planned Parenthood v Casey ruling also affirmed Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortion services, but allowed states to place some constraints on the practice.
WHICH STATES COULD MAKE ABORTION ILLEGAL IF ROE V. WADE IS OVERTURNED?
If Roe is overturned, abortion is likely to remain legal in liberal states. More than a dozen states currently have laws protecting abortion rights.
Numerous Republican-led states have passed various abortion restrictions in defiance of the Roe precedent in recent years.
Republicans could try to enact a nationwide abortion ban, while Democrats could also seek to protect abortion rights at the national level.
Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the pro-abortion rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute.
Of those, 22 states already have total or near-total bans on the books that are currently blocked by Roe, aside from Texas.=
The state’s law banning it after six weeks has already been allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court due to its unusual civil enforcement structure. Four more states are considered likely to quickly pass bans if Roe is overturned.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, have protected access to abortion in state law.
This year, anticipating a decision overturning or gutting Roe, eight conservative states have already moved to restrict abortion rights.
Oklahoma, for example, passed several bills in recent weeks, including one that goes into effect this summer making it a felony to perform an abortion.
CAN WOMEN GET AN ABORTION IN A DIFFERENT STATE?
Yes – the variation in abortion laws around America already means that some women have to travel to a different state to access a procedure.
For example in Texas – which has passed a law banning almost all abortions in the state – an average of 1,400 women from the state travelling each month between September and December 2021 and sought out procedures at 34 facilities in other states such as Louisiana and Kansas.
Research by the University of Texas established that more than a quarter of Texans seeking an abortion (27 per cent) went to obtain the procedure in New Mexico, a state which has seven facilities.
WHAT WOULD ROE V. WADE BEING OVERTURNED MEAN FOR WOMEN?
Abortion would not become illegal everywhere in the US if Roe v. Wade is overturned, with individual states still able to choose whether and when they would be permitted.
As it stands, abortion is legal in every state – but with varying restrictions.
Abortion would likely become illegal in about half of the states in the US if the ruling is overturned – with 24 states expected to ban abortion if they are able to do so.
These are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.