Supreme Court Leak Should Be Investigated

Legal Article

Supreme Court Leak Should Be Investigated

A draft of the opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has leaked to the public ahead of Supreme Court Decision.

Whoever leaked the alleged draft of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has committed the “original sin for judicial ethics,” said Jonathan Turley, criminal defense attorney and Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

At present The U.S. Capitol Police are preparing for possible demonstrations after a leaked draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court indicated the court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling in the 70s that paved the way for legalized abortions, in certain cases, across the country.

While civil unrest is the most obvious short-term fallout of the leak, more long-term is the ethical question of who leaked the material and will there be any fallout from their act. The Supreme Court has a long-held tradition of keeping in strict confidence the deliberations and inner workings of the decision-making process. Cloaked in this process is the ability for justices to openly debate their positions on different cases, with an implicit comfort that their positions, arguments, and votes will not be made public before the court has issued its final opinion. The act of the individual or individuals responsible for this leak has severely damaged the court’s ability to freely deliberate decisions. While some may contend that the actions of the leaker were brave, or otherwise rooted in a desire to protect the protections afforded by Roe, one must remember the members of the bar are held to a high standard in handling confidential materials in particular court materials that are part of the judicial process.

What the impact of the leak will be and whether or not the leaker or leakers will be identified remains to be seen. At this point, we have entered a dangerous stage for our judicial process if decisions that are unpopular can be simply undermined by the acts of an individual(s) who simply do not agree with the decision. This is behavior that should not be normalized nor lionized as it sets a potentially calamitous precedent for the court going forward.