The unprecedented leak of the case known as “Dobbs” on May 2, 2022, has shaken public opinion, both because of its impact on the right to abortion and its implication that politics has permeated the court.
US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who is behind the draft decision to abolish the right to abortion, announced on Friday that he and other conservative justices on the court had become “targets for assassination” after the decision was leaked last year.
Alito told the Wall Street Journal in a rare interview that he believes he knows who leaked his draft decision about two months ago, before it was completed, but he has no proof of that.
And the unprecedented leak of the case known as “Dobbs” on May 2, 2022, has shaken public opinion, both because of its impact on the right to abortion and its implication that politics has permeated the court.
“Personally, I have a good idea of who is responsible for the leak, but that is different from the level of proof required to name someone,” he said.
“It was part of an effort to prevent Dobbs’ draft from becoming a court decision,” he added. After an extensive investigation, the court announced in January that it could not determine the source of the leak.
Alito said that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, after the draft was leaked, was almost attacked, as some considered him the likely vote for the decision.
A gunman was arrested in front of Kavanaugh’s home in Washington, D.C., in the early morning hours of June 8.
Alito said: “The court’s judges, who are believed to be in the majority, and are believed to have agreed with my draft opinion, were really targets for assassination.”
He added, “It was reasonable for people to think that perhaps they could stop the decision in the Dobbs case to kill one of our judges.”
Alito said the threat level rose after the leak, to the point where security prevented him from giving a speech at a local university last May.
Until now, he has to travel in a “tank” with a security escort, according to his description.
On June 24, the court published its six-to-three ruling overturning the landmark Rodd v. Wade decision of 1972 guaranteeing the right to abortion.
The decision was widely supported by anti-abortion activists who sought to take their fight to the states. But it caused anger and resentment among Americans who support abortion, and they are a majority, according to opinion polls.
Alito said the whole affair exacerbated criticism of the court, calling it “something new in my life”. He added: “We are criticized daily, unfairly in many cases. And no one defends us, practically no one.”
He criticized the legal community in particular for not defending the Supreme Court.
“They may have participated to some extent in these attacks,” he said. But he made no mention of calls for more scrutiny of the nine judges, their political leanings and their money.
Tuesday Chief Justice John Roberts refused to testify before Congress about the businesses of two conservative justices and lavish gifts received by one of them that raised ethical issues.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is seeking information on reports that the court’s longest-serving justice, Clarence Thomas, and his wife have received lavish gifts and spent multimillion-dollar vacations with billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crowe.
Roberts cited “concerns about the separation of powers and the importance of preserving the independence of the judiciary” in rejecting the committee’s invitation.
Asked about the reports about Thomas, who like himself is a conservative judge, Alito told the newspaper: “I’m not going to get into it.”
Supreme Court justices are not required to answer questions from the public after the US Senate confirms their appointment for life.
The last time a judge answered questions in Congress was in 2011 and it was about the same issue.