Back in May, all of Washington was obsessed with one question: Who might have leaked the draft opinion that later became Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that gave American women the right to abortion?
Many conservatives insisted the draft must have come from a liberal on the court or a clerk working for one of the three progressive-minded justices, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, or Sonia Sotomayor.
But a report from CNN suggests that the actual leaker was a conservative who did so to box out Chief Justice John Roberts.
On Tuesday morning, reporter Joan Biskupic told hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar:
“He (Roberts) was trying week after week after the initial vote in December after oral arguments at which five justices far on the right voted to overturn Roe, Roberts was alone in the middle wanting to uphold the ban on abortions but not go farther than Roe, but of course, you have the three liberals saying we don’t want to do any of this, we don’t want to disrupt abortion rights at all. Roberts keeps trying. And it’s interesting, not only did his work affect his efforts towards the two newest justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, but it had an effect on the others.”
Biskupic noted that conservatives on the high court soon became wary that Roberts might be able to turn the tide and get others to vote to save Roe, so they leaked the Dobbs ruling:
“The hard-right justices became concerned that he could be. And he was able to pick off justices on the far conservative side for more of a moderate conservative centrist. So they became anxious what he was up to.
And the liberals who had such a defeat this session, starting to have hopes that maybe Roe would not be overturned completely. But then on May 2nd, when the draft of the opinion was released and everything went public, it made John Roberts’ efforts all the harder because he’s a man who likes to work privately, in secret, offering some concessions himself. Seeking concessions for some sort of, as I say, cross-ideological compromise. It went down to the wire, according to my sources, but in the end, he made no headwind.”
For months, people such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have insisted that liberal justice leaked the Dobbs opinion. But the CNN report suggests that’s simply not correct. Instead, it was one or more conservatives (perhaps Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the opinion), gave the draft to Politico and set off the firestorm that soon swept over the nation.