WICKER: Supreme Court Leak Is Attack on Key Institution

Published 4:00 am Sunday, May 8, 2022

By U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker | Guest Columnist 

The U.S. Supreme Court came under unprecedented attack last week when a news outlet published an early draft of a majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi abortion case currently before the court.

The leak of this confidential document — weeks ahead of the expected ruling — is a stunning betrayal of trust within the court’s chambers. The draft decision, if adopted by the court, would overturn Roe v. Wade, returning the issue of abortion to the people and their elected representatives. This news triggered a wave of hostile pressure against the justices ahead of their official ruling.

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Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the leaked draft is authentic but said it does not represent a final decision by the court. He immediately ordered an investigation to find the leaker. Every American should be outraged that one person working at the court chose to short-circuit the judicial process in one of the most consequential cases in our lifetimes.

Instead of condemning this leak, Democrats in Washington have chosen to exploit it for political purposes. Within hours of the news story, President Biden called the draft opinion “radical” and insisted there is a constitutional right to “abort a child.” His allies in Congress went even further. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the draft “an abomination” and “one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history.”

In a baseless slander, they accused the conservative justices of having “ripped up the Constitution” and “lied to the U.S. Senate.”

A few hours later, Senator Schumer vowed to hold a vote on legislation that would impose abortion on demand nationwide, even though this bill already failed in February. Predictably, some Democrats have renewed their push to end the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, hoping they will somehow find the votes to pass extreme abortion policies with a bare majority. This effort faces tough odds, however, as Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have stood strong with Republicans to protect the filibuster.

Members of the Supreme Court rely on absolute trust and discretion to carry out their duties, often exchanging multiple drafts of opinions before they are announced. This leak will severely damage that trust, putting at risk the ability of our nation’s highest court to function. It will also set a disturbing precedent of inciting mob pressure to intimidate the justices before they issue a decision. For the sake of the court’s independence, this leaker must be found and punished. If it was a law clerk, he or she should be fired and disbarred for life. If it turns out that a Supreme Court justice in any way aided or knew of this leak and did nothing to stop it, they should be impeached by Congress.

Like many pro-life Americans, I was encouraged that the draft opinion indicated Roe v. Wade may soon be overturned. Pro-life advocates have fought for 50 years to achieve this outcome, and I was pleased to do my part last year by leading 228 members of Congress on an amicus brief supporting Mississippi’s case. But we should be careful not to get ahead of this decision. Until we see the court’s official ruling, we can only hope and pray for the end of Roe v. Wade and for unborn children to receive the full protection they deserve.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker has served as the senior senator for Mississippi since 2007.