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I ‘Have a Pretty Good Idea’ Leaked Draft Dobbs Opinion

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  • Justice Alito claims to have a “good idea” who leaked the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
  • But he says he doesn’t have the “level of proof that is needed to name somebody.”
  • Alito has himself been accused of leaking the outcoming of a 2014 decision to an evangelical group.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito says that he might know who leaked a draft of the opinion overturning Roe v. Wade — but doesn’t have enough proof to name them.

The conservative Supreme Court Justice made the eyebrow-raising remarks in an interview with a pair of Wall Street Journal opinion writers published on Friday.

In early May last year, POLITICO published a draft of a majority opinion authored by Alito in a major abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, indicating that the court was set to revoke the constitutional right to an abortion established by the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. The court later officially revoked abortion rights in June.

“I personally have a pretty good idea who is responsible, but that’s different from the level of proof that is needed to name somebody,” said Alito, adding that it was “part of an effort to prevent the Dobbs draft… from becoming the decision of the court. And that’s how it was used for those six weeks by people on the outside — as part of the campaign to try to intimidate the court.”

He went on to argue that the leak made the justices who had signed onto the draft opinion “targets of assassination.”

“It was rational for people to believe that they might be able to stop the decision in Dobbs by killing one of us,” he added.

The leak of the draft opinion — besides infuriating those who favor abortion rights — caused a political firestorm of its own at the time. 

Republicans, in particular alleged, without evidence, that someone on the political left had leaked the opinion in order to prevent it from becoming law.

“I think the odds are overwhelming, it is a law clerk for one of the three liberal justices,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told Insider at the time. “The urgency with which those on the left, including in the media, have tried to say no, no, no, this is really a conservative — I think it’s cute, but I think the odds are vanishingly small.”

Still, some have posited that someone on the right may have leaked the draft opinion in order to ensure that it became law, arguing that Justices would’ve felt pressured to maintain that same opinion in the final ruling in the face of public outcry.

Furthermore, Justice Alito has himself been accused of leaking the outcome of Supreme Court deliberations before.

In November, the former head of an evangelical nonprofit said that the conservative Supreme Court justice had told him about the outcome of the 2014 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. before it was made public.

But when asked about the theory that someone on the right leaked the draft, Alito strongly rejected that notion.

“That’s infuriating to me,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “Look, this made us targets of assassination. Would I do that to myself? Would the five of us have done that to ourselves? It’s quite implausible.”

After interviewing 97 court employees, investigators said in January that they still hadn’t identified a culprit behind the leak — though they found that personnel had told their spouses about the decision, violating the court’s confidentiality rules.

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