The Supreme Court Abortion Leak—Your Questions, Answered
How serious is the leak? Will it cause a political earthquake? And more.
Dispatch members, we’re hosting a Dispatch Live tonight that you will not want to miss. We’re going to start with a discussion of the Supreme Court leak and then move straight to the results of the Ohio primary. It’s going to be quite a night! If you’re not a member, you can join (and watch) today.
Last night, at about 8:30 ET, my phone spontaneously combusted. The sheer combination of incoming texts, tweets, emails, Facebook, GroupMe, and WhatsApp messages caused it to detonate in a tiny mushroom cloud. A draft Samuel Alito opinion leaking from the Supreme Court would be shocking enough, but a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade? The mind reels.
I can’t provide a complete analysis of all the ramifications in a single newsletter, but let’s hit as many topics as we can. Here are your most common questions, answered:
Is the draft opinion real? Yes. The court has confirmed the authenticity of the draft, condemned the leak, and ordered an investigation.
Does this mean the case is decided? Absolutely not. A case is not decided until the opinion is issued. The history of the court is littered with examples of shifting majorities, including in abortion cases. Justice Kennedy’s reported flip in Planned Parenthood v. Casey is the stuff of legend. In 1992, months after the decision was handed down, the Washington Post told the story:
The Supreme Court on June 29 affirmed, instead of overturning, the Roe v. Wade abortion standard because Justice Anthony Kennedy changed his vote -- a flip attributed in court circles to liberal constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe's pulling strings backstage.
Two months later, it is clear Kennedy flipped not only his long-held abortion position but also his vote in the secret conference on the Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey decision last fall. That extraordinary switch by a conservative justice stunned antiabortion forces and soured the internal atmosphere among the brethren as the court's new term begins.
We think we might know the outcome based on the leak, but we don’t truly know until the court issues its opinion.