Chief Justice John Roberts called it “absolutely appalling” Thursday that someone leaked a draft opinion that could end nationwide abortion rights — and vowed that the unprecedented disclosure won’t stop the Supreme Court’s work.
Roberts made the remarks at a judicial conference in Atlanta that marked his first public appearance since the high court’s inner workings were revealed Monday night, leading him to order an investigation by the Supreme Court Police the following day.
“A leak of this stature is absolutely appalling,” Roberts said.
“If the person behind it thinks that it will affect our work, that’s just foolish.”
Roberts also denounced the unidentified leaker after praising the Supreme Court’s personnel, ranging from the justices’ law clerks to the cleaning staff.
“I’d hate for one bad apple to change the perception of that,” Roberts said.
Roberts’ comments came during a public conversation with Judge Ed Carnes of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, who asked him to address the “elephant in the room.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, a native of Georgia, is scheduled to speak at the conference on Friday.
The draft opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who abruptly canceled an appearance at a different judicial conference in the wake of its publication by Politico, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The leak also prompted protests outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, where a non-scalable, 8-foot fence — similar to those erected after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021 — was installed Wednesday night.
If adopted by a majority of the nine justices, Alito’s opinion would uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
It would also overturn the landmark 1973 ruling in the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, as well as the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that affirmed the earlier decision.
The Supreme Court has called the leaked document authentic but preliminary.
A ruling is due by the end of June.
With Post wires