rainn.png
Thursday August 11th, 2022 1:20AM

Justices to meet for 1st time since leak of draft Roe ruling

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court’s nine justices will gather in private for their first scheduled meeting since the leak of a draft opinion that would overrule Roe v. Wade and sharply curtail abortion rights in roughly half the states.

The meeting Thursday in the justices' private, wood-paneled conference room could be a tense affair in a setting noted for its decorum. No one aside from the justices attends and the most junior among them, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, is responsible for taking notes.

Thursday’s conference comes at an especially fraught moment, with the future of abortion rights at stake and an investigation underway to try to find the source of the leak.

Chief Justice John Roberts last week confirmed the authenticity of the opinion, revealed by Politico, in ordering the court's marshal to undertake an investigation.

Roberts stressed that the draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in February, may not be the court's final word. Supreme Court decisions are not final until they are formally issued and the outcomes in some cases changed between the justices’ initial votes shortly after arguments and the official announcement of the decisions.

That's true of a major abortion ruling from 1992 that now is threatened, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, when Justice Anthony Kennedy initially indicated he would be part of a majority to reverse Roe but later was among five justices who affirmed the basic right of a woman to choose abortion that the court first laid out in roe in 1973.

Kennedy met privately with Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter to craft a joint opinion, with no hint to the public or even to other justices about what was going on.

“I think it’s tradition and decorum that everyone corresponds in writing about things that are in circulation,” said Megan Wold, a former law clerk to Alito. “But at the same time, there’s nothing to prevent a justice from picking up the phone to call, from visiting someone else in chambers.”

A major shift in the current abortion case seems less likely, at least partly because of the leak, abortion law experts and people on both sides of the issue said.

“I think the broad contours are very unlikely to change. To the extent the leak matters, it will make broad changes unlikely,” said Mary Ziegler, a scholar of the history of abortion at the Florida State University law school.

Sherif Gergis, a University of Notre Dame law professor who once was a law clerk for Alito, agreed. “I’ll be surprised if it changes very much,” Gergis said.

It's not clear who leaked the opinion, or for what purpose. But Alito's writing means that there were at least five votes in December to overrule Roe and Casey, just after the court heard arguments over a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Based on their questions at arguments, Justice Clarence Thomas and former President Donald Trump's three appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Barrett, seemed most likely to join Alito.

Roberts appeared the most inclined among the conservatives to avoid reaching a decision to overrule the landmark abortion rulings, but his questions suggested that he would at the very least vote to uphold the Mississippi law. Even that outcome would dramatically undermine abortion rights and invite states to adopt increasingly stricter limits.

If Roberts, who often prefers incremental steps in an effort to preserve the court's legitimacy, wanted to prevent the court from overruling Roe and Casey, he'd need to pick up the vote of just one other colleague. That would be enough to deprive Alito of a majority.

The liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, are expected to dissent from either outcome. But no dissent, separate opinion from Roberts, or even a revised draft majority opinion has been circulated among the justices, Politico reported.

Majority opinions often change in response to friendly suggestions and barbed criticisms. The justices consider the internal back-and-forth a crucial part of their work.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remarked that pointed criticism from her friend and ideological opposite, Justice Antonin Scalia, made her opinions better. Scalia died in 2016; Ginsburg, four years later.

The lack of any other opinions surprised some former law clerks to the justices, though Wold said it's also true that bigger, harder cases traditionally take more time.

Several former clerks also said they expect the leak to be discussed at the weekly meeting on Thursday, at which the justices typically finalize opinions in cases they’ve heard and choose cases to hear in the coming months. The spring normally is a tense time at the court, with major decisions looming that often reveal stark divisions and sometimes produce sharp words.

“I would be shocked if it doesn’t come up,” Wold said, adding that, given what has happened, the court would probably take additional precautions with drafts circulating in the future, including limiting who has access to them.

Kent Greenfield, a Boston University law professor who spent a year as a clerk to Souter, also speculated that the leak would be on the table Thursday. “Roberts is in a complete bind. He has to address it, but it doesn't strike me that he has many options,” Greenfield said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Supreme Court News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Justices to meet for 1st time since leak of draft Roe ruling
The Supreme Court’s nine justices will gather in private Thursday for their first scheduled meeting since the leak of a draft opinion that would overrule Roe v
6:46PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Nikola Jokic captures 2nd straight NBA MVP title
Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic has earned a second straight NBA Most Valuable Player trophy to become the second consecutive international player to win two in a row
6:41PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Lawyers: Nearly $1B tentative settlement in condo collapse
Lawyers representing families of victims and survivors of the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, last June have told a judge that they've reached a nearly $1 billion tentative settlement
6:41PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden sees bigger role for US farms due to Ukraine war
President Joe Biden is vowing to help American farmers try to ease a global spike in food prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
6:06PM ( 49 minutes ago )
Judge: Trump must pay $110K, meet conditions to end contempt
A New York judge says he will lift his contempt of court order issued against Donald Trump if the former president meets certain conditions
6:00PM ( 56 minutes ago )
Court: California's under-21 gun sales ban unconstitutional
A federal appeals court has ruled that California's ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to adults under age 21 is unconstitutional
5:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Al Jazeera reporter killed during Israeli raid in West Bank
Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has been shot and killed while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank
4:38PM ( 2 hours ago )
Tech sector leads stocks lower as inflation remains high
Stocks fell on Wall Street Wednesday, led by more drops in technology companies, after a report on inflation came in worse than feared
4:34PM ( 2 hours ago )
Democrats' effort to secure Roe v. Wade falls to filibuster
The Senate has failed vote in an effort toward enshrining Roe v
4:25PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Nebraska GOP strains to unite after Trump's candidate loses
Nebraska Republicans are struggling to put the bruising campaign for governor behind them
5:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
‘Fiery’ Psaki ending tenure as a top White House messenger
Jen Psaki is leaving as White House press secretary on Friday after having answered reporters’ questions nearly every weekday of the almost 500 days that President Joe Biden has been in office
5:41PM ( 1 hour ago )
Live updates | UN again getting data from Chernobyl plant
The U.N. nuclear agency says it is again receiving remote data from the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine following an interruption caused by the Russian occupation of the site
5:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Prisoner put to death in Arizona’s 1st execution since 2014
An Arizona man convicted of killing a college student in 1978 has been executed after a nearly eight-year hiatus in the state’s use of the death penalty brought on by a previous execution critics say was botched and the difficulty officials faced in finding lethal injection drugs
2:52PM ( 4 hours ago )
Arizona set to execute 1st prisoner in nearly 8 years
An Arizona prisoner is set to become the first person executed in the state in eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last minute appeal to halt his death by lethal injection
12:32PM ( 6 hours ago )
US Supreme Court clears way for Arizona prisoner’s execution
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the last-minute appeal of an Arizona prisoner to halt his execution less than one hour before he was scheduled to receive a lethal injection Wednesday for the killing of a college student in 1978
12:16PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Supreme Court News
Nikola Jokic captures 2nd straight NBA MVP title
Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic has earned a second straight NBA Most Valuable Player trophy to become the second consecutive international player to win two in a row
6:41PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Lawyers: Nearly $1B tentative settlement in condo collapse
Lawyers representing families of victims and survivors of the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, last June have told a judge that they've reached a nearly $1 billion tentative settlement
6:41PM ( 14 minutes ago )
US finds 500 Native American boarding school deaths so far
A first-of-its-kind federal study of Native American boarding schools that for over a century sought to assimilate Indigenous children into white society has identified more than 500 student deaths at the institutions so far
6:38PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Mario Batali acquittal underscores perils of #MeToo cases
Legal experts and victims’ advocates say celebrity chef Mario Batali’s acquittal on sexual assault charges underscores the inherent difficulties of prosecuting such cases nearly five years into the #MeToo era
6:37PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Creeping COVID-19 cases result in few schools mask mandates
U.S. coronavirus cases are up, leading a smattering of school districts, especially in the Northeast, to bring back mask recommendations and requirements
6:17PM ( 38 minutes ago )