Republican lawmakers have called for a federal investigation into who leaked an apparent draft of a majority opinion indicating that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which has protected a woman’s right to abortion for the past half-century.
The leak of the 98-page document, an unusual occurrence for the highly guarded institution, has shook Washington and infuriated conservatives, who claim the breach was intended to intimidate the court and have called for the person responsible to be apprehended and prosecuted.
“This is a court assault.” This is someone who has accomplished something unprecedented. “They decided to leak this,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a member of the Judiciary Committee. She stated that she is certain. Chief Justice John Roberts and the FBI “worked all night trying to figure out who did this, and I have no doubt that the justices were assembled early this morning to come together and address this.”
A Supreme Court spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday that the document is “authentic,” but “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak a “betrayal,” and he directed the court marshal to look into the source of the breach.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a former Texas solicitor general who has argued cases before the Supreme Court, has called for an FBI investigation into the leak and stated that the person responsible “should be prosecuted and should go to jail for a very long time.”
“It is absolutely incredible that anyone on the court would leak a draft opinion.” This has never happened in over 200 years of our country’s history, and I’m appalled,” Cruz told reporters on Tuesday.
“This is the most egregious breach of trust in the history of the Supreme Court,” he added. “Presumably, a left-wing law clerk dissatisfied with the court’s direction decided to betray his or her obligation, the trust that clerk owed to the justice and to the court.” Pressed on how he was certain the leaker was a liberal, Cruz replied: “Because I’m not a moron, because I live on planet Earth.”
Top Republican leaders on Capitol Hill also chimed in. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the leak “lawless” and “yet another escalation in the radical left’s ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law.”
He demanded a prompt investigation and stated that the Justice Department “must pursue criminal charges if applicable.”
Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Elise Stefanik, the top three House Republicans, issued a joint statement saying the leak must be investigated, calling it a “coordinated campaign to intimidate and obstruct the Justices of the United States Supreme Court.”
Republicans quickly condemned the leak, but they also remained cautiously optimistic about the Supreme Court’s expected decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“The Supreme Court and the DOJ must use every investigative tool available to get to the bottom of this leak immediately,” tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who, like Cruz, serves on the Judiciary Committee and is frequently mentioned as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.
Former Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he wasn’t sure if committing a “unethical act” like leaking a Supreme Court document constituted a crime.
He was also unsure whether Congress should be involved in the investigation due to the separation of powers. “I’m reluctant to go down that road because of the separation of powers,” Graham told reporters. “This is a separate, independent branch of government. Let’s give them a crack at figuring this out.