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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito pulled out of a public appearance Thursday in the wake of the unprecedented leak of his draft majority decision in a case that could reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade case which declared a Constitutional right to abortion.
Alito was to take part in a judicial conference set to begin on Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee. Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe did not say why Alito canceled when asked by Reuters, but an investigation into the leak is ongoing and some leftists have called for protests and even violence against the five justices who signed onto Alito’s draft opinion.
“Seriously, shout out to whoever the hero was within the Supreme Court who said ‘f*** it! Let’s burn this place down,’” tweeted Ian Millhiser, a senior correspondent at the far-left news site Vox following the leak.
Twitter was flooded with vitriol against Alito and the other four justices who reportedly concurred with his opinion, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts, nominally a member of the court’s conservative wing, reportedly did not sign the opinion.
On Wednesday, the activist group that calls itself “Ruth Sent Us” urged protesters to visit “the homes of the six extremist justices, three in Virginia and three in Maryland.” The group’s website listed the street names, but not numbers, where each justice lives.
New: Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the leaked draft abortion ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wade, has canceled an appearance at the 5th Circuit's judicial conference set to begin tomorrow in Nashville. https://t.co/f4Ne3rUVxH
— Nate Raymond (@nateraymond) May 4, 2022
Roberts and Thomas were scheduled to speak on Thursday and Friday at the 11th Circuit’s judicial conference in Atlanta, Reuters reported. It was unclear if those appearances had been canceled.
The leak of the draft stunned the nation and reignited the long-running debate about abortion. The opinion would decide the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, a challenge to a Mississippi law greatly restricting the federal right to abortion granted by the Roe decision. Alito wrote that Roe and a subsequent case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe, both must be overturned, and the right to allow, deny, or restrict the right to an abortion must reside with states.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” the 98-page opinion states. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.”
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) May 5, 2022
Roberts has ordered an investigation into the leak, which many suspect was done to put pressure on justices to change their mind before formally releasing their decision in the case, which is expected to happen in the coming weeks.
“The leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe is a dangerous obstruction of justice,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said in a statement. “And, it could very well lead to intimidation and violence directed at Supreme Court justices. This unprecedented leak fits with the Left’s continued assault against the Supreme Court.”
Near the end of Alito’s draft opinion, the jurist appears to acknowledge the prospect that overturning Roe v Wade could roil the public.
“We cannot allow our decisions to be affected by any extraneous influences such as concern about the public’s reaction to our work,” he wrote.