Retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer signaled the high court still doesn’t know who leaked the draft opinion earlier this year revealing the justices were poised to overturn national abortion rights.
In a interview airing this weekend on CNN’s “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?,” the recently retired justice said he hasn’t heard any update on the individual’s identity since the high court launched its probe in May into the unprecedented incident, The Associated Press reported.
“Within 24 hours the chief justice ordered an investigation of the leaker. Have they found him or her?” the show’s namesake host asked.
“Not to my knowledge, but … I’m not privy to it,” Mr. Breyer said.
Mr. Wallace added: “So in those months since, the chief justice never said, ‘Hey, we got our man or woman?’”
“To my knowledge, no,” Mr. Breyer responded.
Mr. Breyer retired from the court in June after sitting on the bench for 28 years. He was replaced by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was confirmed in April.
About a month after her confirmation, court-watchers were aghast when news broke on May 2 that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn the decades-old precedent on abortion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It was the first time a full draft opinion had been leaked in the Supreme Court‘s 233-year history.
In the draft opinion published by Politico, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the question of access to abortion should return to the state legislatures. The news broke months before the court would issue its actual 6-3 ruling.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion,” he wrote. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”
“It’s time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” read the draft opinion, which was dated in February.
Pro-choice protesters were outraged by the leak, and began protesting outside the homes of conservative justices, sharing their addresses online.
One activist even traveled from California to Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with plans to assassinate him.
And the leak did not count as disinformation: Justice Alito’s official opinion ultimately closely mirrored the leaked draft opinion.
It’s been nearly five months since Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. tapped Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley days after the leak in May to lead the investigation and find out who did the leaking.
A former Army lawyer and colonel who oversees the court grounds and security, Ms. Curley has been on the job less than a year. But observers say she appears to have the right temperament for the unexpected task, and an Associated Press profile described her as “smart, private, apolitical and unlikely to be intimidated.”
The Supreme Court will kick off its 2022 term next month.
• Alex Swoyer can be reached at email@example.com.
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