Justice Alito: SCOTUS Dobbs Leak Was Caused by Those Who Wish to Politicize Court

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

In a newly released interview from mid-April with Wall Street Journal reporter James Taranto, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito talks about a wide range of topics, with a special focus on how the Justices’ work and lives have been drastically affected by the leak of the Court’s Dobbs draft opinion, the landmark decision that returned the issue of abortion to the states.

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Anyone who kept an eye on the story on Friday has likely seen the splashy headlines about Alito saying he thinks he knows who leaked the draft opinion—and why they leaked it. But that’s just part of what the justice shared in the interview.

One lasting effect of the leak, he says, was how “damaging” it was to the functioning of the Court itself.

WSJ:

He now says that the leak “created an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust. We worked through it, and last year we got our work done. This year, I think, we’re trying to get back to normal operations as much as we can. . . . But it was damaging.” […]

As RedState reported in January, after the leak happened in May 2022, the Court drafted Marshal of the Supreme Court Gail A. Curley to investigate and issue a report on who was responsible for it. But the investigation was inconclusive, and no one was charged with leaking the draft to Politico.

Justice Alito tells the WSJ that he felt “the marshal did a good job with the resources that were available to her,” although, as the Journal wrote, “the evidence was insufficient for a public accusation.”

But he added:

“I personally have a pretty good idea who is responsible, but that’s different from the level of proof that is needed to name somebody,” he says. He’s certain about the motive: “It was a part of an effort to prevent the Dobbs draft . . . from becoming the decision of the court. And that’s how it was used for those six weeks by people on the outside—as part of the campaign to try to intimidate the court.”

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Alito stressed that he believed it was a possibility that someone would try to assassinate one of the Justices over how they might decide Dobbs. They essentially had targets placed on their backs by the leak:

“It was rational for people to believe that they might be able to stop the decision in Dobbs by killing one of us.”

He spoke about various theories he had heard about who might have done the leak, including the concept that it was conservatives hoping to sway the Court to overturn the law:

“That’s infuriating to me,” Justice Alito says of the theory. “Look, this made us targets of assassination. Would I do that to myself? Would the five of us have done that to ourselves? It’s quite implausible.”

There is much more in the lengthy Wall Street Journal piece, but let me highlight this point the Justice made. Part of the interview that may be sidelined in the mainstream media contains Alito’s view on how the full-bore attacks by the Left and their media allies on the Supreme Court—leading up to and in the wake of the Dobbs decision—harm our nation’s constitutional foundations:

“We’re being bombarded with this,” Justice Alito says, “and then those who are attacking us say, ‘Look how unpopular they are. Look how low their approval rating has sunk.’ Well, yeah, what do you expect when you’re—day in and day out, ‘They’re illegitimate. They’re engaging in all sorts of unethical conduct. They’re doing this, they’re doing that’?”

It “undermines confidence in the government,” Justice Alito says. “It’s one thing to say the court is wrong; it’s another thing to say it’s an illegitimate institution. You could say the same thing about Congress and the president. . . . When you say that they’re illegitimate, any of the three branches of government, you’re really striking at something that’s essential to self-government.”

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He’s not wrong about that. And the attempts by leftists to debase the members of the Supreme Court didn’t end on Friday, as my colleague Streiff writes.

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