'It borders on treason.' Turn To Tara team investigates leak of Supreme Court draft opinion

The Turn To Tara team spoke with several high-profile legal minds with personal connections to the most consequential legal decision in decades.

Tara Rosenblum

May 4, 2022, 2:35 AM

Updated 812 days ago


A draft opinion by the Supreme Court that could overturn Roe v. Wade went public Monday night and is getting heated reaction from all sides of the political aisle. 
It's an unprecedented event that will certainly shape the viewers of the Supreme Court - especially on divisive issues going forward.

A question on many minds is who leaked it and what will the consequences be. 
The Turn To Tara team spoke with several high-profile legal minds with personal connections to the most consequential legal decision in decades.
"Personally, I was horrified," says attorney Joanna Wright, partner at Boies Schiller Flexner. "This is a very closely guarded process, and a leak this like this is entirely unprecedented. The stakes could not be higher. Never has a draft opinion on such a controversial politically divisive issue been leaked in advance of a final opinion."
Wright was the lead attorney who filed a game-changing legal brief with the Supreme Court last fall.  The brief was filed on behalf of 500 athletes, including soccer start Megan Rapinoe and basketball standouts Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, and is now part of the official record that the justices will review ahead of their historic final opinion. 
"Their bottom line is simply that women's athletics at all stages from pre-K to Olympians would not have become what it did today...absent a women's right to control their own body, but so this to say disappointment, I think puts it mildly, their livelihoods are threatened with this decision. Half the states in the country stand ready to ban the right to abortion if a decision like the draft opinion comes down," says Wright.
While the normally secretive Supreme Court has confirmed the authenticity of the document published by Politico Monday night, the question of who leaked Justice Samuel Alito's draft remains. 
"Whoever did this should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law because it really strikes at the heart of democracy... it borders on treason as far as I am concerned," says Daniel Isaacs, former Court of Appeals clerk. 
Isaacs is a former clerk on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and tells the Turn To Tara team that only a handful of people would have had access to the draft at this stage - namely, the justices, their clerks and a few high-level administrative assistants. 
Isaacs believes the leak was politically motivated by a left-leaning staff member hoping to turn up the pressure in the court of public opinion. 
Debra Cohen, a former Supreme Court clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall, says she's not sold. 
"I don't think we know. I think there's - I think it's speculation. I think it could be effort to have people see what the consequences will be. Others wanting to make sure they solidified the five votes," says Cohen.
And as for what should happen now, Cohen says that she thinks "each justice talks to the clerks and the justices talk to each other."
"I would pull in every law clerk - there are 36 of them - and have them take a lie detector test," says Isaacs.
It's still possible we may never learn the source of the leak.   
 LIVE BLOG: Roe v. Wade

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