Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito revealed Friday that he has a “pretty good idea” of the identity of the person behind the leak of his draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade last year.
Alito, who wrote for the majority in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, told the Wall Street Journal that the unprecedented breach “created an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust” inside the nation’s highest court.
“We worked through it, and last year we got our work done. This year, I think, we’re trying to get back to normal operations as much as we can … But it was damaging,” Alito said of the unauthorized release of his draft opinion to Politico in May 2022, more than a month before the final Dobbs ruling came down.
An investigation into the leak was ordered by Chief Justice John Roberts, but the marshal of the Supreme Court, Gail Curley, said in January she had been unable to definitively determine the leaker’s identity.
“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 told the Journal.
The 73-year-old conservative justice also said that he is certain of the motive behind the leak.
“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,” said Alito, arguing that justices thought to support overturning Roe were “really targets of assassination.”
“It was rational for people to believe that they might be able to stop the decision in Dobbs by killing one of us,” Alito said of threats that emerged after the leak, including the arrest of an armed man outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh — days before the ruling was announced.
The justice dismissed an alternative theory that a conservative trying to lock five justices in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade may have been responsible for the leak, calling the idea “infuriating.”
“Look, this made us targets of assassination. Would I do that to myself?” he asked.
“Would the five of us have done that to ourselves? It’s quite implausible.”