Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito canceled an appearance at an upcoming judicial convention, two days after a draft decision he leaked to Politico showed the body was set to overturn historic abortion protections in Rowe v. Wade.
Reuters was first to report that Alito was to appear at the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals judicial convention this week. The event hosts judges from that region, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, with Alito assigned justice to hear any emergency appeals from the 5th Circuit.
Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe confirmed to the outlet that Alito would not participate, but did not provide any further details about the cancellation.
Alito, a member of the court’s six-judge conservative bloc, wrote the draft majority opinion, encouraging Roe’s 1973 ruling, calling it “wrong from the start.”
“We believe that Roe and Casey must be dismissed … it is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people,” the draft reads.
The court’s official ruling on the matter is final only when it is published, and judges can change their votes until that point (expected to be in June). But Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the draft was authentic on Tuesday, drawing national condemnation from Democrats and civil rights advocates.
The fact is that the draft opinion has leaked outright, and it is extremely rare to gain insight into a court’s thinking before an opinion is published. Roberts has vowed to investigate the leak, saying it was a “betrayal”.
Reuters noted that Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas were expected to speak at a similar event for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, although it is unclear whether they planned to attend. The circuit conference is the first individual event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.