Alito Fears ‘Assassination’ as Investigation Into Supreme Court Leak Goes Radio Silent

The justice’s comments underscored how the unsolved mystery of the leaked Dobbs draft opinion continues to haunt the court.

Erin Schaff/the New York Times via AP, pool
Justice Samuel Alito in 2021. Erin Schaff/the New York Times via AP, pool

Justice Samuel Alito’s comments at the Heritage Foundation Tuesday underscore just how powerfully the high court is haunted by the unsolved mystery over the leak of his draft opinion on abortion. 

Justice Alito told the crowd at Heritage that the publication of his draft — in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health — rendered him and his fellow conservatives “targets for assassination.” The justice went on to reflect that the leak was a “grave betrayal of trust by somebody, and it was a shock.”

The justice also said that it “gave people a rational reason to think” they could preserve abortion “by killing one of us.” One man has been charged for plotting to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who joined the Dobbs majority.

The macabre warnings of the consequences of the leak come amid radio silence regarding the investigation into its origins. Politico published the draft memo in early May, and soon after Chief Justice Roberts deputized the court’s marshal, Gail Curley, to track down the source of what he called an “absolutely appalling” breach.

In June, CNN reported that phone records had been requisitioned from the court’s clerks, who were also asked to sign affidavits. Further reporting disclosed that some of those clerks had themselves engaged legal counsel in response to investigatory overtures. 

Since then, nothing — though expressions of outrage from the justices have not been in short supply. Justice Clarence Thomas compared the leak to an act of “infidelity” that made one “begin to look over your shoulder.” He warned: “I think that you have a court and I hope you can keep it.”

Last month at a synagogue in New York, Justice Elena Kagan called the leak “horrible,” but noted, “I don’t know anything. I suspect my colleagues don’t know anything, except for the chief justice maybe, about what the investigation has turned up if anything.” She expressed uncertainty as to whether the court has “figured out who the perpetrator was.”

At a judicial conference in Colorado, also last month, Justice Neil Gorsuch reiterated that “the chief justice appointed an internal committee to oversee the investigation” and that the “committee has been busy and we’re looking forward to their report, I hope soon.”

The New York Sun

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