Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said Tuesday during a Heritage Foundation event that the initial leaked draft majority opinion to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision put some justices’ lives in danger.
“The leak also made those of us who were thought to be in the majority in support of overruling Roe and Casey targets for assassination because it gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us,” Alito told the Heritage Foundation’s John G. Malcolm, who asked the justice how the leak affected the court.
On May 2 of this year, POLITICO published the draft from Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization from an unidentified source.
Almost two months later, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the monumental Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion across America.
Alito wrote that Roe and a subsequent case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe must be overturned, and the right to allow, deny, or restrict the right to an abortion must reside with states.
The 6-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization followed the early May leak of the draft opinion indicating which way the justices would rule. That leak prompted nationwide protests, particularly in Washington, D.C., and dozens of acts of vandalism were reported at pro-life organizations, centers, and churches, which probed Chief Justice John Roberts to launch an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure.
No information on who leaked the draft has been made public.
“It was a grave betrayal of trust by somebody,” Alito said. “And it was a shock because nothing like that had happened in the past,” adding that the leak changed the atmosphere of the court during the remainder of the term.
Alito further noted that during the time between the leaked draft and the final decision, a California man allegedly threatened to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
NBC News reports authorities arrested Nicholas John Roske, of Simi Valley, California, in June near Justice Kavanaugh’s home armed with a handgun, a knife, pepper spray, and burglary tools. Roske pleaded not guilty to the charge.
“It’s a pending case, so I won’t say anything more about that,” Alito said.
The threats against the nation’s highest court have continued since the overturning.
According to NBC, authorities arrested a Georgia man last week after police found him driving in Washington with two handguns and a shotgun, planning to “deliver documents” to the Supreme Court.
Alito switched gears after discussing the dangers he and other conservative Justices faced.
“But that was last term,” he said. “Now where we’re in a new term. I think that all of us . . . want things to get back to normal — the way they were before all of this last term . . . before COVID . . . [to] get back to normal to the greatest degree possible — and that’s what we hope will happen.”
“I think everybody is working on that,” he added.
Mary Margaret Olohan contributed to this report.