On May 2, 2022, POLITICO leaked a draft opinion in the politically-charged Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that made it to the Supreme Court with lightning speed.
The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case is one of the most controversial and consequential decisions in American legal history. This landmark ruling established that a woman has a right to choose whether to have an abortion.
The case has also been a lightning rod for debate ever since. The decision was met with significant backlash from pro-life activists, who have been working to overturn the ruling ever since.
I’m not going to go into a lengthy reiteration of what the leaked draft said, or what it means for the United States. When the final draft drops, I will do an in-depth case review of it. (Read the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case review.)
This PDF was labeled as the 1st Draft: get the PDF from POLITICO.
Justice Alito wrote for the majority, in which he stated:
We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
This leaked draft sparked several protests outside of Chief Justice John Roberts’s, Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s, Justice Samuel Alito’s houses. However, despite the media to the contrary, the protests were peaceful. Most protestors held candles (as in, a candle vigil).
The leak has caused controversy, with some arguing (especially Justice Alito) that it was a politically motivated move to influence public opinion ahead of the Supreme Court hearing.
I believe that the leaked draft speaks for itself, so I won’t be going into details about this event. However, I will say this: I’m surprised this hasn’t happened yet … and I’m not surprised that it happened now.
Judges, law clerks (those are the attorneys who do the legal research and writing for the judge), and judicial staff are governed by a code of ethics. But most of those ethics have to do with what’s happening externally, not internally. You know, being judge-ly and upholding the values of justice and all of that.
In this day, in the same politically-charged atmosphere that made Dobbs shoot up to the Supreme Court in the first place, I am absolutely amazed that a draft hasn’t been leaked. My prediction is that this will not be last time we will see a leaked draft.