Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the leaked draft opinion on Roe v. Wade was authentic, and said that he has since ordered an investigation.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed the authenticity of a leaked draft opinion that would see the bench overthrow the abortion protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade.
Roberts has since ordered an investigation into the leak.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Roberts said in a statement to media. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”
“I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak,” he added.
According to CNBC, the “advance publication” of an anticipated court opinion is without precedent.
While other branches of government have long been susceptible to leaks, they have rarely affected the Supreme Court, which has traditionally kept internal processes of decision-making and dissent non-public.
The court, says CNBC, often circulates draft opinions long before they are ever released, with Roberts calling it a “routine and essential part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work.”
Roberts said that his colleagues—along with their support staff, law clerks, and other employees—are “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,” he said. “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.”
POLITICO, which first reported the leak, said that the justices’ draft opinion was created in February.
If the justices do not revise their opinion, they would issue a split decision that would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade and allow individual states to outright restrict abortion services.
Now, President Joe Biden and other top-ranking Democrats have indicated that they intend to submit legislative proposals to encode Roe v. Wade in federal law.
After Roberts confirmed the draft, Vice President Kamala Harris said that it is “clear” that “opponents of Roe want to punish women and take away their rights to make decisions about their own bodies.”
Harris further said that “Republican legislators in states across the country are weaponizing the use of the law against women.”
Conservatives, in contrast, have directed most of their criticism at the leak itself; several, however, have pre-emptively praised the court for putting decisions about abortion back into the hands of individual state governments.