Chief Justice John Roberts said that he has asked the marshal of the Supreme Court to investigate the source of a leak of a draft opinion obtained by Politico that shows that justices are poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The court confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion, but said that “it does not represent a decision by the court or the final position of any members on the issues in this case.”
“To the extent that this betrayal of the confidences of the court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the court will not be affected in any way,” Roberts said.
He added, “Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the court. This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the court and the community of public servants who work here.”
Politico published the full draft of the opinion, and also cited a source who said that five justices voted to overturn the court’s 49-year-old abortion precedent. The story immediately triggered a furor, and demonstrators showed up near the steps of the court on Monday night.
Although the leak of an opinion is a breach of court tradition and ethics, it’s not immediately clear that it is against any federal law. Nor was the publication of it.
Politico editor-in-chief Matt Kaminski and executive editor Dafna Linzer wrote in a memo to staffers that “our obligation, as protected by the First Amendment, is to report the news and inform our audience. Our journalism speaks for itself, and that is no different here.”
Earlier, President Joe Biden weighed in on the publication of the draft. He said that it would represent a “fundamental shift in American jurisprudence” with an impact on other rights to privacy including same-sex marriage and birth control.
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