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Supreme Court judges to meet for first time after Rowe’s draft report leaks against Wade – Chicago Tribune


WASHINGTON – Nine Supreme Court justices will meet on Thursday for their first scheduled meeting after a leaked draft opinion that repeals Rowe v. Wade and severely restricts abortion rights in about half of the states.

Meeting in a private conference room of judges with wooden panels can be stressful in an atmosphere marked by decency. No one but the judges is present, and the youngest of them, Judge Amy Connie Barrett, is in charge of the notes.

Thursday’s conference comes at a particularly difficult time when the future of abortion rights is at stake and an investigation is underway to try to find the source of the leak.

Chief Justice John Roberts last week upheld the opinion expressed by Politico, ordering the court marshal to investigate.

Roberts stressed that the draft, written by Judge Samuel Alita and distributed in February, may not be the last word of the court. The decisions of the Supreme Court are not final until they are officially published and the results in some cases have changed between the initial votes of the judges shortly after the disputes and the official announcement of the decisions.

This is true of the serious abortion order of 1992, which is now under threat, “Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” when Judge Anthony Kennedy initially said he would be part of the majority to overturn Rowe, but was later among five judges. which reaffirmed the basic right of women to choose abortion, which the court first laid out in 1973.

Kennedy met privately with Judges Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter to work out a joint opinion, without a hint from either the public or even other judges about what was happening.

“I believe it’s a tradition and decency that every letter writes about things that are in circulation,” said Megan Wald, a former Alita lawyer. “But at the same time, nothing is stopping justice from picking up the phone to call, to visit someone else in the cells.”

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

“I think the broad outlines are unlikely to change. To the extent that the leak is significant, it will lead to far-reaching changes unlikely, ”said Mary Ziegler, an abortion history researcher at the University of Florida Law School.

Sheriff Gergis, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame who was once a legal clerk at Alita, agreed. “I’ll be surprised if that changes a lot,” Gergis said.

It is unclear who expressed the opinion and for what purpose. But Alita’s writing means there were at least five votes in December to repeal Rowe and Casey, right after the court heard arguments over the Mississippi Act, which bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Based on their questions during the controversy, Judge Clarence Thomas and three appointees of former President Donald Trump, Judges Neil Gorsach, Brett Cavanaugh and Barrett seemed likely to join Alita.

Roberts proved most inclined among conservatives to avoid deciding to repeal the iconic abortion ordinances, but his questions suggested he would at least vote to uphold the Mississippi Act. Even such an outcome would drastically undermine abortion rights and encourage states to impose tougher restrictions.

If Roberts, who often prefers gradual steps in an effort to preserve the legitimacy of the court, wanted to prevent the court from overturning Rowe and Casey’s decision, he would have to vote for another colleague. That would be enough to deprive Alita of the majority.

Liberal judges, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, are expected to disagree with both. But no dissent, Roberts’ dissenting opinion or even a revised draft opinion was disseminated by most judges, Politico reports.

The opinions of the majority often change in response to friendly offers and prickly criticism. Judges consider internal redirection to be an important part of their work.

Judge Ruth Bader Ginzburg noted that harsh criticism from her friend and ideologically opposed judge Antonina Scalia had improved her opinion. Scalia died in 2016; Ginzburg four years later.

The lack of any other opinions surprised some former lawyers in the courts, although Wald said it was also true that larger and more difficult cases traditionally take longer.

Several former clerks have also said they expect the leak to be discussed at a weekly meeting on Thursday, at which judges usually finalize opinions on cases they have heard and select cases to consider in the coming months. Spring is usually a busy time in court, when important decisions are made, which often reveal sharp divisions and sometimes provoke harsh words.

“I would be shocked if it didn’t happen,” Wald said, adding that given what had happened, the court was likely to take additional precautions with drafts to be distributed in the future, including restricting access to them.

Kent Greenfield, a law professor at Boston University who spent a year as a clerk at Souter, also suggested the leak would be considered Thursday. “Roberts is in complete stupidity. He has to solve it, but I don’t think he has many options, ”Greenfield said.


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