Samuel Alito cancels court conference appearance after Roe draft leaks

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has canceled an appearance at an upcoming judicial conference, two days after a draft ruling he authored was leaked to Politico showing the body is set to be released. overturn historic abortion protections in Roe v. Wade.

Reuters reported for the first time that Alito was scheduled to appear at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Conference this week. The event features judges from the region, which encompasses Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, with Alito serving as the judge assigned to hear emergency appeals from the 5th Circuit.

Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe confirmed to the outlet that Alito would not be attending but gave no further information on why he had canceled.

Alito, a member of the court’s conservative six-judge bloc, authored the draft majority opinion, which excoriates the 1973 Roe decision, calling it “demonstrably wrong from the start.”

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“We believe that Roe and Casey should be thrown out…It’s time to uphold the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people,” the draft says.

The court’s official decision on the matter isn’t final until it’s released, and the judges can change their votes up to that point (which is expected to be in June). But Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday confirmed the project was genuine, drawing nationwide condemnation from Democrats and civil rights advocates.

The fact that the draft opinion has been leaked is shocking, and it is extremely rare to get a glimpse of the Court’s thinking before an opinion is published. Roberts pledged to investigate the leak, saying it amounted to “treason”.

Reuters notes that Roberts and Judge Clarence Thomas were scheduled to speak at a similar event for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, though it was unclear whether they planned to attend. The circuit talks are the first in-person events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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