Chief Justice Roberts efforts to flip Kavanaugh and preserve Roe stymied by draft opinion leak: report

(Video: CNN)

When Politico reported the majority opinion draft leak from the Supreme Court that would result in the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Chief Justice John Roberts strongly condemned how it undermined “the integrity of…operations.”

Now it appears the real “betrayal” may have been committed against Roberts himself as a new report alleged the chief justice had been working to preserve Roe and his efforts were severely hampered by the leak.

Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked on May 2 and ultimately stood with a vote of 6-3. What also stood was the overturn of Roe v. Wade by a vote of 5-4 with Roberts siding with the liberal dissenting justices as had been anticipated.

However, dissenting was merely a concession for Roberts as, according to a new report from CNN, the chief justice had been working for months to sway his conservative colleagues to maintain the framework of Roe.

CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic revealed Tuesday: “Multiple sources told CNN that Roberts’ overtures this spring, particularly to Kavanaugh, raised fears among conservatives and hope among liberals that the chief could change the outcome in the most closely watched case in decades. Once the draft was published by Politico, conservatives pressed their colleagues to try to hasten release of the final decision, lest anything suddenly threaten their majority.”

“Roberts’ persuasive efforts, difficult even from the start, were thwarted by the sudden public nature of the state of play,” she went on. “He can usually work in private, seeking and offering concessions, without anyone beyond the court knowing how he or other individual justices have voted or what they may be writing.”

Appearing on “New Day” Tuesday, she added, “He was trying week after week after the initial vote in December after oral arguments…Roberts was alone in the middle wanting to uphold the Mississippi 15-week ban on abortions but not go further than Roe.”

“Not only did his work affect his efforts toward the two newest justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, but it had an effect on the others,” Biskupic argued while maintaining the language of pro-abortion advocates. “The hard-right justices became concerned that he could be successful.”

“The chief has himself switched votes in the past and he has also been able to pick off justices on the far-conservative side for more of a moderate, centrist decision in certain cases. So they became anxious about what he was up to,” she alleged, “and the liberals who had such a defeat this session started to have some hope that maybe Roe would not be overturned completely.”

After the leak became public, as the justices were reportedly aware of it in late April, Roberts issued the following statement:

“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. 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 law 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. I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”

Nearly three months later, that investigation has remained fruitless and Biskupic said, “nobody’s been caught and there’s just a lot of skepticism inside that despite how aggressive the investigation has gone that they are not close to finding out who it is.”


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Kevin Haggerty


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