Chief Justice Roberts orders Marshal of the Court to investigate leaked draft opinion on abortion

Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion of the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked Monday night.

Updated: May 3, 2022 - 12:16pm

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Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday morning ordered the Marshal of the Court to investigate who leaked the draft opinion in an abortion case before the high court. 

"This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here," Roberts said in a statement. "I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak."

On Monday night, Politico posted a story that Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the high court's conservative majority, had written a draft opinion in a pending Mississippi abortion case that would overturn the court's landmark, 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing a constitutional right to abortion. 

Leaks in the highest court in the country are extremely rare. Roberts' order follows calls for an investigation from lawmakers, activists and others, mostly conservatives.

Critics of the leak have suggested it was an attempt by liberals to generate enthusiasm within its voter base in this year's midterm elections. 

"To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed," Robert also wrote. "The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.

"We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce — permanent employees and clerks alike — intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court.

"This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here."

Roberts, in the statement, calls the document described in yesterday's report "authentic." However, he said, it "does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any members on the issues in the case."