- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said Tuesday that the leak of his draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade endangered the jurists in the conservative majority, making them “targets for assassination.”

“The leak also made those of us who were thought to be in the majority in support of overruling Roe and Casey targets for assassination because it gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us. And we know that,” Justice Alito said at an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.

Nicholas Roske, 26, was arrested in June near the home of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in Montgomery County, Maryland, and charged with plotting to kill him. The California man has pleaded not guilty.

“A man has been charged with attempting to kill Justice Kavanaugh. It’s a pending case so I won’t say anything more about that,” Justice Alito said.

The conservative jurist, who authored the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson sending authority on abortion limits back to the states, made his comments during a 70-minute discussion with moderator John Malcolm at the Annual Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture.

Justice Alito called the May 2 leak of the Dobbs draft opinion to Politico a “grave betrayal.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ordered an investigation into the leak, but no perpetrator has been identified.

“It was a grave betrayal of trust by somebody, and it was a shock because nothing like that had happened in the past, so it certainly changed the atmosphere at the court for the remainder of last term,” Justice Alito said.

He said that the justices and their staffs are eager to “get back to normal” as the court begins a new term.

“I think that all of us, all of the justices, and I think the people who work in the building — we have a wonderful staff, I’ll add that — want things to get back to normal, the way they before all this last term, before COVID, get back to normal to the greatest degree possible, and that’s what we hope will happen,” he said. “And I think everybody is working on that.”

Six of the court’s nine justices were appointed by Republican presidents, while three were named by Democrats.

Asked about liberals’ proposals to pack the court by adding justices, Justice Alito stressed that such a decision is for Congress to make, but that he likes the current size.

“I think personally — here again I have no special status in talking about this — nine is a good number,” he said. “Somewhere in the middle range. Some state supreme courts have seven. They find that workable. Something in sort of the middle range would be a good number.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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