Roe’s leak could impact how the Supreme Court rules gun rights, climate and immigration cases this spring

At their conference, the secret is kept so close that no one else is allowed in the room. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, as the most junior judge, is responsible for opening the door if someone knocks.

But such precautions seem almost obsolete now.

In the coming days, an investigation launched by Roberts will begin and will likely have a long-term impact that will trigger protocol changes and add new levels of secrecy.

In the short term, however, the implications of the leak could be more serious. Indeed, in the coming weeks, judges will have to resolve the abortion dispute as well as a major Second Amendment case and others involving immigration, religious liberty and the environment.

“The nine justices, their more than three dozen clerks and the administrative assistants must constantly and collegially work together to write opinions so that the Supreme Court can function,” said Mike Davis, former clerk to Justice Neil Gorsuch. “It requires strict trust and extreme trust, both shattered by this unprecedented leak.”

These deliberations – which involve painstaking choreography between chambers – could be damaged in the future. Such work requires frank conversations and shared trust, and that could be difficult to muster knowing that what happens behind closed doors could be broadcast around the world.

Here are the main cases that the court considers to have the potential to have a major impact on American life:

Roe v. Wade and abortion

While much has been said about Alito’s draft opinion, a tribunal spokesperson clarified that it is not final and does not reflect the final vote of any member of the tribunal.

This would suggest that there is still a possibility that one or two judges who presumably initially voted to overrule Roe are in play. One option that Roberts supported would be to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, but not to explicitly nullify Roe’s guarantee of a right to abortion.

It’s not uncommon for votes to change, or for a dissenter to write so eloquently that he might win the unexpected support of an initially majority colleague.

Second Amendment Rights

The court hasn’t issued an opinion in a major Second Amendment case in more than a decade, but it now has an opportunity before it.

Judges are considering overturning a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago that places restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon outside the home.

As judges debate the issue in secret, they will decide whether to make a sweeping ruling that the right to own and bear arms extends to the right to carry a handgun outside the home. , or whether to focus more narrowly on a handful of laws. which give licensing officials wide discretion in deciding who gets a permit.

School vouchers and prayer

Behind the scenes, judges are likely divided in a case over the exclusion of religious schools from a Maine tuition assistance program that allows parents to use vouchers to send their children to public schools or private.

RELATED: The Supreme Court’s Evolution on Separation of Church and State

Conservatives at court have recently expanded religious freedom rights, while liberals have sometimes taken steps to reinforce the separation between church and state.

Another outstanding case involves a former high school football coach who wants to pray at the 50-yard line after games. During oral arguments, conservatives appeared to favor the coach’s religious rights, while liberals feared the students would feel pressured to participate in prayer led by their coach.

Climate crisis

The justices are also considering a case brought by Republican attorneys general who argue the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the authority to regulate global warming emissions from the electricity sector.

Instead, they argue that authority should flow through Congress. The result will have huge implications for Biden’s climate agenda and the future of environmental regulation generally.

“Stay in Mexico” and immigration

There are several immigration disputes before the court.

In one, the Biden administration seeks to end the Trump-era “stay in Mexico” policy, which requires non-Mexican migrants to stay in Mexico until their immigration court date. in the USA. Lower courts blocked Biden from ending the policy. Judges will consider a sweeping lower court decision that could significantly alter immigration programs in the future.

By the end of the term, Roberts will have steered the court through one of the most controversial roles in recent history at a time when the court’s popularity is at an all-time low – and that was before the project leaked. opinion on abortion. .

In his statement announcing the investigation, Roberts called the leak a “singular and flagrant violation” as well as an “affront.”

Although he claimed that “the work of the Court will not be affected in any way” – it already has been.


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