Alito tight-lipped in first comments since draft leak

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Alito tight-lipped in first comments since draft leak

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is not giving anything away about possible strife among his colleagues since his draft opinion striking down the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling was leaked last week. 

After giving a virtual speech at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School in northern Virginia Thursday night, Alito was asked by an audience member whether he and his fellow justices were still on good terms following the shocking disclosure. 

“This is a subject I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about today regarding, you know – given all the circumstances,” Alito responded, according to the Washington Post

“The court right now, we had our conference this morning, we’re doing our work. We’re taking new cases, we’re headed toward the end of the term, which is also a frenetic time as we get our opinions out,” the justice added, noting that the court is scheduled to complete its term by the end of June or beginning of July. 

Demonstrators in support of reproductive rights hold a vigil outside Alito's home.
Demonstrators in support of reproductive rights hold a vigil outside Alito’s home.
REUTERS

“So, that’s where we are,” Alito concluded. 

While justices of both political persuasions have insisted in the past that all nine jurists enjoy a respectful and friendly relationship despite disagreeing about the law, the Washington Post reported that the 72-year-old Alito skipped that disclaimer on Thursday.

Alito addressed the GMU audience hours after the justices met for the first time since Politico published his leaked draft opinion on May 2. 

No clerks or other staff were allowed to sit in on Thursday’s conference, and it was unclear whether the justices discussed the unprecedented breach of their internal deliberations. 

Abortion-rights protesters hold signs during a demonstration outside of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Abortion-rights protesters hold signs during a demonstration outside of the U.S. Supreme Court.
AP

Following the conference, the Supreme Court announced that at least one opinion would be released on Monday morning, though the final decision in the abortion case — Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — is not expected to drop until closer to the end of term.

Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the Alito draft was genuine last week, calling the leak an “egregious breach of trust” and ordering the Supreme Court’s Marshall to launch an investigation into how it happened. 

As of Friday, it remains unclear who leaked the document. 

In the days following the leak, all six conservative justices – Alito, Roberts, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas – have been subjected to pro-abortion protests and demonstrations outside their homes. 

Pro-abortion demonstrators hold up photographs of conservative Supreme Court justices.
Pro-abortion demonstrators hold up photographs of conservative Supreme Court justices.
REUTERS

Republicans and conservatives have called for a crackdown on the displays, citing a federal law stating that anyone who has the intent of “interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer” and pickets or parades in or near a court building or residence “occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness or court officer” will face a fine or imprisonment of up to one year.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department revealed it had mobilized the US Marshals Service to provide additional security for the justices and the Supreme Court building in Washington.

“Attorney General [Merrick] Garland continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Justices,” a DOJ spokesperson said in a statement. “The Attorney General directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police.”

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