Supreme Court urged to release abortion ruling now as investigation begins to find leaker

U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2017.
U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2017. | REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The prominent conservative publication National Review and other conservatives are calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately release the final version of a majority opinion that could overturn the 1973 landmark decision Roe v. Wade

In an editorial board column published Tuesday, the biweekly conservative magazine that has published news and commentary since 1955 called for the high court to release its final opinion on the case of Dobbs v. Jackson as it has been refined to this point if the draft opinion leaked Monday is truly how the court plans to rule.

The op-ed responds to Monday's unprecedented leak of a draft opinion to Politico, which reports that the draft would overturn abortion legal precedent that has stood for nearly 50 years.  

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The case centers on the legality of a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

"If the leaked opinion truly reflects the majority decision, that decision — as refined to this point — should be issued immediately as such," the editorial board wrote. 

"Publication would avoid the scandalous appearance that the Court’s rulings could be swayed by leaks and political pressure. Justices who plan to dissent could still do so at their leisure." 

Congressman Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., tweeted yesterday that he believes the Supreme Court has to "now act and release the final opinion rather than have the issue of Roe’s future simmer."

"Action will be in the best interest of the nation," he added. 

The LifeNews project Stop Abortion Now also took to Twitter to argue that the high court "should release the Roe opinion immediately to subvert this leftist attempt to intimidate the Court and incite a mob."

Politico's report on the leaked initial draft opinion circulated inside the court indicated that the high court could overturn Roe in a 5-4 decision, with Justice Samuel Alito authoring the majority.

However, the revelation of the first draft opinion does not mean Roe will be overturned, as justices can “change their votes as draft opinions circulate and major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote-trading, sometimes until just days before a decision is unveiled.”

In a statement Tuesday, the Supreme Court emphasized this point, stating that while “the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”

Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak a “betrayal” and added that the “work of the Court will not be affected in any way."

“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,” Roberts said.

“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 directed the marshal of the court, Col. Gail A. Curley, to launch an investigation into the leak.

The leak garnered widespread reactions from numerous politicians, activists and advocacy groups.

Pro-choice groups expressed outrage over the likely overturning of Roe. While some pro-life groups celebrated the text of the draft opinion, others expressed caution in celebrating the news because the draft opinion does not represent the court's final decision.

Groups like Texas Right to Life wonder if the “unprecedented” leak “could have been an attempt to intimidate the justices into preserving Roe.”

Steven H. Aden of Americans United for Life speculated that the leak was "presumably by pro-abortion staffers within the Court" for political reasons. 

"It is a cynical and naked attempt to pressure justices to alter course in Dobbs and to perpetuate abortion violence," claimed Aden. 

"The Court should maintain the moral high ground, stick to the clear and courageous language of this draft opinion, and not allow itself to be ruled by the expectations of pro-abortion activists or proxy media allies."

In its editorial, the National Review editorial board argued that "Congress and the executive branch should stand ready" to "conduct full-blown investigations to identify and hold any leakers accountable." The editors argued that the Supreme Court is "institutionally incapable" of doing such an investigation. 

"But the Supreme Court’s restoration of constitutional order ought to accompany a restoration of the Court’s norms," the editorial reads. "The leak is intolerable and cannot go unpunished. And Roe should not stay on the books a moment longer."

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