Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticized Tuesday’s leak of his draft opinion regarding Roe v. Wade last Spring as a “grave betrayal and shock” and stated that it placed the lives of some conservative justices on the high court at risk.
Alito made his most direct and extensive comments on the leak. He said that it made justices thought to be in majority “targets of assassination” because it gave some people reason to believe they might be able to stop the release of final opinion “from happening, killing one of us.”
Although he did not provide any updates on the leak investigation, his comments suggest that the court is still trying to determine who violated its inner sanctum.
The justice stated that the leak had “certainly altered the atmosphere at court for the remainder of the last term,” but that once the new term began, justices wanted “to get back to normal.”
Alito stated that “And that’s exactly what we hope will occur,” during a visit to the conservative Heritage Foundation. Alito reiterated that even though the justices may not always agree on paper they have “always got along very well on an individual level.”
Alito, however, made the same statement and suggested that he disagreed publicly with comments made by liberal colleagues questioning the legitimacy of the court.
Alito defends the court when asked about comments made by a “couple of his colleagues” during the summer recess.
He stated that everyone in the country has the right to disagree with our decisions and that there is no doubt about that.
He said, “But to claim that the court exhibits a lack of integrity it is something quite different that goes with the character.”
Alito stated that it “crosses an essential line” when someone claims that a court “acts in a manner that is illegitimate.” The remarks were based on a September statement that the justice made to The Wall Street Journal.
He said, “I don’t believe anybody in a position to make that claim lightly.” He added, “That’s not common criticism. That is something very special.”
Alito didn’t directly mention his colleagues. Justice Elena Kagan spoke, however, over the summer recess about how precedent overturning was a factor that could undermine the legitimacy of the court.
She stated that judges can create problems of legitimacy for themselves and undermine their legitimacy when they act less like courts or do things that are legally recognized as law before an audience in New York.
Kagan spoke last week about the importance to respect prior cases. She said that people depend on the law, without mentioning Roe. People depend on the law.
“You know that if you give people rights, then you take away the right. “They’ve come to understand their lives in a new way.” She said before an audience at the University of Pennsylvania.
Alito spoke earlier on Tuesday about the need to overturn precedent and how important it was to respect the law doctrine “stare decisis”.
He said, “We usually follow precedent.”
Alito’s remarks come as justices meet for the first sitting in the new term. This included important cases on voting rights and the environment.
They will be taking on two very important cases in October. These are about whether colleges and universities can continue to consider race as a factor for admissions to increase diversity. The Supreme Court is being challenged by challengers to change decades-old precedent.