Bloomberg Law
May 5, 2022, 8:16 PM

Chief Justice Says Supreme Court Leak ‘Absolutely Appalling’ (1)

Greg Farrell
Greg Farrell
Bloomberg News
Greg Stohr
Greg Stohr
Bloomberg News

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak of a draft Supreme Court abortion opinion this week “absolutely appalling” and said the person responsible would be “foolish” to think the disclosure will affect the court’s handling of the case.

Roberts made his remarks Thursday at a judicial conference in Atlanta three days after Politico reported that the court had preliminarily voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling. He’s already asked the Supreme Court marshal, its top security officer, to investigate the leak.

John Roberts
Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg

“The thing that upset me is that it will give the wrong impression of the workforce” at the court, Roberts said at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals conference. “One bad apple can change the perception of the court.”

The draft opinion, written by Justice Sam Alito, said the 1973 ruling “was egregiously wrong from the start.” If finalized, more that two dozen states would likely ban all or most abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that backs abortion rights.

Politico said four other justices -- Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett -- voted with Alito when the justices discussed the matter at a private conference in December.

“A leak of this sort is absolutely appalling,” Roberts said. “And if the person behind it thinks it’s going to have an effect on our deliberative process, it’s also foolish.”

(Updates with additional comments starting in third paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story:
Greg Farrell in New York at;
Greg Stohr in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski at

Steve Stroth

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