SCOTUS justices meet after draft Roe v. Wade overturn leak

SCOTUS justices meet after draft Roe v. Wade overturn leak

The nine Supreme Court justices are scheduled to meet Thursday for the first time since the unprecedented leak of a draft decision indicating they are on the verge of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

The nation’s top jurists are set to gather in person at the Supreme Court building at 10 a.m. to discuss outstanding cases and petitions. It is not clear whether any opinions will be issued. No clerks or other staff will be allowed to sit in on the conference.

Politico’s publication of the February draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito May 2 rocked the nation and sparked protests across the country, including outside the homes of the court’s six conservative justices.

In the draft, Alito described the Court’s decisions in both Roe and a second case, 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, as “egregiously wrong from the start” and said only states should decide whether to put restrictions on abortion. 

Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the draft was genuine, and described the leak as an “egregious breach of trust” before ordering the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into its source. The leaker of the document has yet to be identified but speculation has flourished over whether the person is linked to the liberal or conservative wings of the court.

The justices will likely enhance the precautions involving draft decisions, including limiting who has access to them.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP

The final ruling on the case in question, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is expected at the end of June or early July. 

After the draft decision was published, protests erupted outside the Supreme Court, leading to the erection of a temporary fence. Demonstrations then shifted to the homes of Alito, Roberts and fellow conservative Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. 

Republicans have called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to crack down on the protests, citing a federal law prohibiting demonstrations intended to influence a judge, juror, witness or court officer in a pending case.

Pro-abortion demonstrators hold up photographs of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts during a protest in Foley Square.
Pro-choice demonstrators hold up images of conservative Supreme Court justices during a protest in Foley Square.
Jeenah Moon/REUTERS

On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced it had mobilized the US Marshals Service to provide security for both the court building and the justices.

“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.”

Also Wednesday, Republican governors Larry Hogan of Maryland and Glenn Youngkin of Virginia sent a letter to Garland urging him to “provide appropriate resources to safeguard the justices and enforce the law.”​

“In short, federal law prohibits picketing the home of a judge with the aim to influence the judge’s decision making process,” they wrote. “Given that the document in question is a draft decision, it seems clear this federal code is applicable.”

While the exact nature of Thursday’s conference is likely to remain secret, a number of former law clerks said they believe the leaked draft decision will be one of the matters discussed.

“I would be shocked if it doesn’t come up,” Megan Wold, a former Alito clerk, told the Associated Press, adding the justices will likely enhance the precautions involving draft decisions, including limiting who has access to them.

“Roberts is in a complete bind,” Boston University law professor Kent Greenfield, who clerked for former Justice David Souter, told the AP. “He has to address it, but it doesn’t strike me that he has many options.”

W​ith Post wires

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