OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has broken his silence after a draft of the majority opinion overturning Roe v Wade leaked.
Speaking at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, the conservative justice was reluctant to talk about the leaked opinion, The Washington Post reported.
He spoke to the crowd via closed circuit, even though the university is around seven miles away, as threats have been made against some of the Justices.
A questioner asked him if he and the other Justices were in a place where they could go out together.
“I think it would just be really helpful for all of us to hear, personally, are you all doing okay in these very challenging times?” the person said.
“This is a subject I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about today regarding, you know — given all the circumstances,” the Justice said.
“The court right now, we had our conference this morning, we’re doing our work. We’re taking new cases, we’re headed toward the end of the term, which is always a frenetic time as we get our opinions out,” he said.
Instead, he concluded: “So that’s where we are.”
A report earlier this week stated that a majority of Supreme Court justices remain in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade after a draft of the majority opinion was written in February and leaked.
Sources told The Washington Post that at least 5 justices, a majority on the court, have not changed their votes.
“Three conservatives close to the court” told WaPo that “the majority of five justices to strike Roe remains intact,” a question that has stirred those on both sides of the debate that has erupted around the future of abortion law in the U.S. in the wake of the leaked draft.
“The leaked draft opinion is dated in February and is almost surely obsolete now, as justices have had time to offer dissents and revisions. But as of last week, the majority of five justices to strike Roe remains intact, according to three conservatives close to the court who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter,” the WaPo report stated.
“A person close to the most conservative members of the court said Roberts told his fellow jurists in a private conference in early December that he planned to uphold the state law and write an opinion that left Roe and Casey in place for now. But the other conservatives were more interested in an opinion that overturned the precedents, the person said. A spokeswoman for the court declined to comment, and messages extended to justices were unreturned,” the report added.
It’s assumed that Justices Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett voted in favor of overturning Roe v Wade.
The court’s three liberals — Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — are presumed to have voted against overturning it.
It’s not clear how Roberts voted.
NEW — Alito’s draft majority opinion overturning Roe remains the court’s only circulated draft. None of the conservative justices who sided with Alito have switched their votes.https://t.co/NNMvKE34tN
— Sam Stein (@samstein) May 11, 2022
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak of a draft opinion “absolutely appalling” and announced an investigation to find the leaker.
“The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right,” Politico reported.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.”
Alito adds: “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
“We, therefore, hold the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito writes in the document, labeled the “Opinion of the Court.”