Chief Justice John Roberts says Supreme Court leak won’t alter deliberations

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ATLANTA — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told a crowd of judges and lawyers on Thursday that the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe vs. Wade is “absolutely appalling”, but will not affect the final outcome of the court’s historic deliberations on the abortion issue.

“A leak like this – let’s assume it is – is absolutely appalling, and if the people behind it, or the person behind it, thinks it’s going to have an effect on our decision-making process, that’s absolutely appalling. insane,” Roberts said. the meeting of the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference here.

“We will do our job as we would anyway, regardless of the leak,” he said. Roberts confirmed that Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s draft opinion, published Monday night by Politico, was authentic, but not definitive.

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The disclosure rocked the Supreme Court and the judiciary. Common in the political branches of government, Supreme Court leaks are virtually unheard of and never has a draft opinion been published in full. Roberts sometimes seemed to still have a hard time believing it had happened.

“What bothers me a bit, though, is that it could give the wrong impression of our workforce,” Roberts said during a session led by Ed Carnes, senior judge at the Court of Appeals. of the United States for the 11th circuit.

“The people who work on the Supreme Court are extremely dedicated to the institution, and indeed to the rule of law,” Roberts said, adding that it ranges from “the guy who empties the trash at night to the most holder of the search.”

Judge Clarence Thomas sat in the front row as Roberts spoke.

“They share a common commitment to the court’s mission,” Roberts said. “And this episode, this absolutely appalling episode, shouldn’t hurt that.”

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Lawyers and judges at the conference hail from Florida, Alabama and Georgia, and Carnes had suggested at the start of the event that Roberts address “the elephant in the room. And not the Alabama Crimson Tide elephant.

But probing questions are not common when judges question the chief justice; Carnes did not press the investigation that Roberts said the Supreme Court Marshal would conduct. At one point, Carnes good-naturedly warned Roberts that he was about to ask a question “that’s not on the script.”

The disclosure has put the court in the uncomfortable spotlight as it addresses one of the most contentious issues it faces. There have been protests outside the court and speculation as to whether the outcome of the case is a foregone conclusion or still subject to change.

Alito canceled his appearance at a similar conference of judges and attorneys in Nashville. Thomas is scheduled to speak here on Friday.


Washington

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