A CNN article on “the inside story of how John Roberts failed to save abortion rights” contains no real surprises. GOP political operative/Chief Justice John Roberts allegedly worked on Kavanaugh all spring to soften the majority opinion, hoping the court would gut Roe but leave a fig leaf in place — as the wingnut majority had previously done to the VRA — to mitigate potential backlash to the Republican Party.
As previously surmised, when the Alito draft leaked in May, the players were basically frozen in place:
Roberts and his colleagues spent a few anxious days quietly awaiting publication of the document, stretching through the afternoon of May 2, when all nine were together for a live-streamed memorial at the court for the late Justice John Paul Stevens. Politico first published its story about the draft that night at 8:32 p.m.
Roberts launched an investigation into who might be behind “this betrayal of the confidences of the Court.” He vowed that court’s work “will not be affected in any way.”
But, of course, it was, most notably in diminishing whatever chance he had to dislodge the five-justice bloc set to overturn Roe. The aggressive leak investigation worsened the existing strains among the justices, their law clerks and other employees in the nine chambers… Friction among all intensified as protests began, fencing and barricades were erected around the court, and some usual end-of-session lunches and parties were dropped.
Not the usual lunches and parties!
I have lots of sympathy for Justices Sotomayor and Kagan and retired Justice Breyer (what a shitty way to go out), plus incoming Justice Jackson. But maybe it’s best that the artificial comity was stripped away as their Republican operative colleagues exercised raw political power.
Everyone else knows the “balls and strikes” model Roberts tried to sell us as he prepared to rig future games is complete bullshit. So the justices needn’t pretend to be opera buddies anymore.
As for the leak, ask yourselves who it served. A couple of days ago, the AP published a piece on the status of the investigation:
The Supreme Court won’t say whether it’s still investigating.
The court also won’t say whether the leaker has been identified or whether anyone has been disciplined.
Or whether an outside law firm or the FBI has been called in.
Or whether the court will ever offer an accounting of what transpired.
Or whether it has taken steps to try to prevent a repeat.
To these and other emailed questions, Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said by email: “The Court has no comment.”
The AP piece also says “the public might never know.”
My guess is former and current cult member Mrs. Justice Thomas is the leaker. She already tried to overthrow the government, so what’s a draft opinion leak to the likes of her? Since the unaccountable star chamber doesn’t feel we’re owed an explanation, we’ll have to draw our own conclusions.
ETA: Paul Campos at LGM theorizes that Alito leaked his own draft. I think that’s a better theory than my Ginni Thomas guess.