Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said Tuesday that the unprecedented leak of the draft decision that repealed Roe v. Wade made him and other majority justices feel like targets of possible political violence from those who opposed it.
“The leak also made those of us who were thought to be in the majority in support of overruling Roe and Casey targets for assassination, because it gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us,” Alito said at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation.
Alito did not appear to have knowledge of the leaker’s identity months after the May leak of the draft Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization opinion, which he wrote. Alito said the leak “was a grave betrayal of trust by somebody.”
Alito said the leak was a “shock” and “certainly changed the atmosphere at the court for the remainder of last term.”
He added that the Supreme Court was on high alert because they knew that “a man has been charged with attempting to kill Justice Kavanaugh.”
Nicholas John Roske has was arrested in June after he showed up at Kavanaugh’s home wearing black and armed with a gun and a knife. He pleaded “not guilty” of trying to do Kavanaugh harm in late June, and Alito said Tuesday he wouldn’t talk more about that case because it is pending.
The Supreme Court launched an investigation to determine who leaked the draft Dobbs decision, amid rumors that a staff member is the likely culprit. Alito did not get into details of the investigation, but said, “we have wonderful staff.”
Alito, who has served on the bench since his appointment by President George W. Bush in 2006, added that his fellow Justices and Supreme Court staff are looking for a return to a normal routine this term after the COVID disruption.
“Now where we’re in a new term, I think that all of us want… things to get back to normal the way they were before all this last term, before COVID. Get back to normal to the greatest degree possible. And that’s what we hope will happen,” Justice Alito said.