Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch says it’s “terribly important” to find the person responsible for the unprecedented leak of the high court’s draft opinion of the ruling that overturned the national right to abortion.
“Improper efforts to influence judicial decision-making, from whatever side, from whomever, are a threat to the judicial decision-making process and inhibit our capacity to communicate with one another,” said Justice Gorsuch Thursday at a judicial conference, according to Bloomberg Law.
Justice Gorsuch signaled that a panel investigating the leak is still hard at work, despite the public not getting any details for the past four months.
“We’re looking forward to their report I hope soon,” Justice Gorsuch said.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. previously said the leak was “absolutely appalling.” He tapped Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley days after the leak in May to lead the investigation and find out who is responsible.
A former Army lawyer and colonel who oversees the court grounds and security, Ms. Curley has been in the job less than a year. But observers say she appears to have the right temperament for the unexpected task, and an Associated Press profile described her as “smart, private, apolitical and unlikely to be intimidated.”
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Court-watchers were aghast when news broke May 2 that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn the decades-old precedent on abortion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It was the first time a full draft opinion had been leaked in the Supreme Court’s 233-year history.
In the draft opinion published by Politico, Justice Alito said the question of access to abortion should return to the state legislatures. The news broke months before the court would issue its actual 6-3 ruling.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion,” he wrote of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”
“It’s time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” read the draft opinion, which was dated in February.
Pro-choice protesters were outraged by the leak, and began protesting outside the homes of conservative justices, sharing their addresses online.
One activist even traveled from California to Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s home in Chevy Chase, Maryland with plans to assassinate him.
And the leak did not count as disinformation: Justice Alito’s official opinion ultimately closely mirrored the leaked draft opinion.