Conservatives started whining as soon as the Supreme Court’s draft judgment to reverse Roe v. Wade was made public, claiming that the leak was the result of a cunning liberal clerk who intended to circulate the opinion in order to persuade the court’s conservatives to change their views.
It’s possible that this is what happened, but if it did, then making the document public had the exact opposite impact.
According to the story from CNN, Chief Justice John Roberts’ efforts to persuade Justice Brett Kavanaugh to cast Roe’s deciding vote were thwarted by the leak of the draft Dobbs v. Jackson ruling.
Despite public and private pressure from conservatives for the court to uphold its decision, sources told CNN that Roberts continued to try and convince the junior justice even after the leak of the draft ruling.
“Roberts’ overtures this spring, particularly to Kavanaugh, raised fears among conservatives and hope among liberals that the chief could change the outcome in the most closely watched case in decades.”
Roberts has previously been successful in persuading Kavanaugh to disassociate himself from the conservative majority, most notably in his choice to join the liberal justices in upholding the Affordable Care Act.
Kavanaugh would ultimately vote to uphold the Mississippi law contested in Dobbs but filed a separate concurrence disagreeing with the majority decision to overturn Roe.
According to some with inside knowledge, Roberts already had a difficult time persuading Kavanaugh to support abortion rights prior to the leak because Kavanaugh had previously expressed a desire to overturn Roe and had cast a vote against it in a secret justices’ meeting.
Who, then, leaked the draft opinion? That is still a mystery. It is obvious that the conservative argument that “It was certainly a lib because look who had the incentive” is nonsense and has always been.
The potential of swing votes was eliminated due to heightened tensions among the justices and their staff as well as the risk that a justice who changed their vote from that in the draft opinion would be seen as caving to public pressure.
Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the justices review earlier decisions that established the rights to contraception, same-sex marriage, and protections for same-sex relationships under the same principles of privacy as Roe after the final 6-3 decision in Dobbs, which overturned the right to abortion established by Roe.
Thomas is currently under huge scrutiny due to his wife being a far-right nut bag who was in support of Trump’s 2020 election lies. Many have called for Thomas to step down from the bench.