Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of a draft majority opinion in Dobbsv. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that would overturn court precedent on abortion rights established in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The draft opinion was first reported by Politico Monday night.
"Yesterday, a news organization published a copy of a draft opinion in a pending case. Justices circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the Court's confidential deliberative work. Although the document described in yesterday's report is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case," the Supreme Court said in a statement.
Roberts called the unprecedented leak a "betrayal" and announced that he has ordered an investigation to find the source .
"To the extent 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.
"We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce — permanent employees and law clerks alike — intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. 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," the chief justice continued.
"I have directed the Marshal of the Supreme Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak," he said.
On Monday night, Politico shocked the political world by publishing a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito for the case concerning Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban.
Alito's draft is a no-holds-barred takedown of the court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade and the subsequent 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which affirmed a constitutional right for a woman to seek an abortion.
"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Alito writes.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” the draft opinion declares. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives."
Politico reported that this draft opinion was circulated among the justices in February and is not the final opinion the court is expected to release sometime in the next two months. Reporters Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward wrote that they "received a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document."