In what may be a sign of how heated things have gotten in the wake of this week's bombshell Supreme Court leak, justice Samuel Alito has canceled an appearance. Reuters reports that Alito—author of the leaked draft opinion that would dismantle Roe v. Wade—was to appear at the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals' judicial conference, which begins Thursday. It's a gathering of federal judges from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, and the Supreme Court confirmed that Alito—who hears emergency appeals from that circuit—would no longer attend. No reason was specified.
Separately, Chief Justice John Roberts and Clarence Thomas were scheduled to speak at a conference for the 11th circuit, which runs Thursday and Friday in Atlanta. It was unclear whether their appearances were still on. As the fallout continues over the leak, the New York Times has weighed in with a story on Alito and Roberts. The two justices—both conservatives appointed by George W. Bush—long had virtually "indistinguishable" voting records on the court. But the story asserts that Alito has begun to part ways with Roberts, particularly since the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the bench.
“Justice Alito now appears to have concluded he no longer needs the chief to receive coveted opinion assignments,” Harvard law professor Richard Lazarus tells the newspaper. “And, buoyed by a five-justice conservative majority to the right of the chief, Justice Alito has apparently concluded, as underscored by his first draft opinion in the Mississippi abortion case, that he can now swing for the fences using the broadest language possible.” (Read six different takes on the draft opinion.)