SCOTUS Leak: Violation of 'Sacred Trust' or 'Public Service'?

6 wildly different takes
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2022 12:26 PM CDT
6 Wide-Ranging Takes on the SCOTUS Leak
A security guard is framed inside a coat hanger as demonstrators protest outside of the US Supreme Court Tuesday, at dusk in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – There's no shortage of opinion pieces on the shocking leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Some say it's "a journalistic coup of the highest order." Others say it's "a fundamental assault upon the institution." Six wide-ranging takes:

  • A political court exposed: "The court pretends to rise above politics," writes Jack Shafer at Politico. But the leak, which appears to be lawful, "reveals a court-decision-in-process as a purely political document that aligns five conservatives against the court's liberals and, presumably, the chief justice." The upside is that the public has a preview of the court majority's plan "in a midterm year straight from the horse's pen," which "amounts to a journalistic coup of the highest order."

  • 'A public service': The leaker "has done a public service, both by giving Americans who support reproductive rights a head start on mobilizing for a post-Roe legal order and by damaging the Court's mystical aura of legitimacy at precisely the moment when it deserves to be damaged," writes David Klion at New York. Indeed, "the elite reverence" for the judiciary is "untenable now that a supermajority of the Court consists of trained right-wing ideologues," who seek to strip away a law that a majority of Americans support and assumed to be permanent.
  • 'Violating the sacred trust': "The merits of an opinion on abortion can wait for another day," as "the precedent of violating the sacred trust of the court during its deliberative process is a fundamental assault upon the institution of the judiciary," writes Jim Trusty at Fox News. "Courts and judges, by design, are supposed to rise above the din of passion and mob emotionalism." But now, that emotionalism could make it easier to usher in new justices or term limits.

  • 'Accomplished nothing': "The leaker might have truncated, temporarily, the court's deliberative process, much as the Jan. 6 mob temporarily truncated a constitutional process in the Capitol," argues George F. Will at the Washington Post. But in the end, they "accomplished nothing but another addition to the nation's sense of fraying and another subtraction from the norms that preserve institutional functioning and dignity."
  • Court as partisan tool: "Diminished public trust in the Court is a good thing," according to Ian Millhiser at Vox, who argues the institution "does not deserve the reverence it still enjoys in much of American society," even after a "history of union-busting, of supporting racial segregation, and of upholding concentration camps." The opinion looks to be "the culmination of a decades-long effort by Republicans to capture the institution and use it ... to implement an unpopular agenda they cannot implement through the democratic process."

  • Now 'we can prepare': "Thank God" for the leak, "so we can prepare. So we can rage," writes Roxane Gay at the New York Times. After all, "we should not live in a country where bodily autonomy can be granted or taken away by nine political appointees, most of whom are men and cannot become pregnant. Any civil right contingent upon political whims is not actually a civil right." It could be rights to contraception and marriage equality that are rolled back next—a "terrifying" prospect. "How are we free, under these circumstances?"
(Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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