Thy best blog spot for Supreme Court news—even when a leaked draft to oveturn Roe v. Wade is not making national headlines–is SCOTUSblog.
The New York Times referenced The Wall Street Journal today in their court coverage, as does the post below from this blog.
Start from the premise that there were actually (at least) two leakers, and three leaks. The first leak was to the Wall Street Journal editorial board last week. In substance, it was that the court had voted to overrule Roe v. Wade, but that the precise outcome remains in doubt because Chief Justice John Roberts is trying to persuade either Justice Brett Kavanaugh or Justice Amy Coney Barrett to a more moderate position that would uphold the Mississippi abortion restriction without formally overturning Roe.
While not formally presented as relying on a leak, the editorial transparently does. The most obvious example is that it predicts that Alito is drafting a majority opinion to overrule Roe, but gives no explanation for that prediction and none is apparent. We now know that Alito did draft that opinion.
The second leak was to Politico. Likely within the past few days, a person familiar with the court’s deliberations told them that five members of the court – Alito, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, along with Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch – originally voted to overturn Roe and that remains the current vote. In addition, the position of the chief justice is unclear. The remaining justices are dissenting.
The third leak was also to Politico. It was presumably – but not certainly – by the same person. Someone provided them with Alito’s Feb. 10 draft opinion.
It is also important to look at the leak of the opinion through the lens of the fact that someone – almost certainly a conservative – had just before leaked the court’s tentative decision and the state of the voting to The Wall Street Journal. That leak was itself an extraordinary and unethical breach of confidences and certainly caused very deep concern inside the court.
My guess is that someone on the left felt somewhat justified in releasing the opinion in response. Through the opinion, one would see what the Journal was saying Kavanaugh and Barrett were considering. That leak was a historically unprecedented violation of the deepest and most solemn trust among the justices and the court’s staff. It wounded the institution.
For followers of the Court and politicos alike, this has been a week not short on drama. The story grows as a nation simmers, tensions rise, and our democracy shudders with concern about what will follow.
And so it goes.