Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito says he has “a pretty good idea” of who leaked the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization draft decision that made conservative justices “targets of assassination.”
To date, nobody has been publicly named a suspect or charged for the leak.
The draft opinion was leaked in May 2022, more than a month before the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The leak prompted a wave of threats and harassment against the conservative judges, as well as an assassination attempt on Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“I personally have a pretty good idea who is responsible, but that’s different from the level of proof that is needed to name somebody,” Alito said, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. “It was a part of an effort to prevent the Dobbs draft … from becoming the decision of the court. And that’s how it was used for those six weeks by people on the outside — as part of the campaign to try to intimidate the court.”
Alito said he believes that pro-abortion activists thought they could prevent the ruling by killing a justice who supported it.
“Those of us who were thought to be in the majority, thought to have approved my draft opinion, were really targets of assassination,” Alito continued. “It was rational for people to believe that they might be able to stop the decision in Dobbs by killing one of us.”
Justice Alito added that “I don’t feel physically unsafe, because we now have a lot of protection.”
The justice said that he is now “driven around in basically a tank, and I’m not really supposed to go anyplace by myself without the tank and my members of the police force.”
Justice’s homes are now guarded by deputy US marshals around the clock.
The report pointed out that while it is illegal to protest or picket at the home of a justice to attempt to influence a ruling, Sen. Katie Britt obtained training slides showing that deputies working these details have been instructed to enforce the law only as “a last resort to prevent physical harm to the Justices and/or their families.”
Justice Alito asserted that “this type of concerted attack on the court and on individual justices” is “new during my lifetime. . . . We are being hammered daily, and I think quite unfairly in a lot of instances. And nobody, practically nobody, is defending us. The idea has always been that judges are not supposed to respond to criticisms, but if the courts are being unfairly attacked, the organized bar will come to their defense.”
However, in the case of conservatives, Alito says that “if anything, they’ve participated to some degree in these attacks.”
Justice Alito also responded to Democrats that have called the Supreme Court “illegitimate” over the ruling.
The justice said that these accusations undermine “confidence in the government.”
“It’s one thing to say the court is wrong; it’s another thing to say it’s an illegitimate institution. You could say the same thing about Congress and the president. . . . When you say that they’re illegitimate, any of the three branches of government, you’re really striking at something that’s essential to self-government.”