Supreme Court justices to meet for first time behind closed doors after leak

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The nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court will gather behind closed doors Thursday morning for the first time since a draft opinion in an abortion case was leaked to the media, igniting a firestorm of protests outside the court and their own homes.

The opinion written for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, by Justice Samuel Alito, would overturn Roe v. Wade if published as the court’s official ruling. Tensions are now running high across the country, and demonstrations have led to a fence being erected outside the Supreme Court building, further separating the nine jurists from the outside world.

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Several former Supreme Court clerks told The Associated Press that they expect the justices to discuss the leak during Thursday’s meeting. Supreme Court conference days are typically used for the court’s members to discuss cases they have already heard and decide which ones to hear in the future.

“I would be shocked if it doesn’t come up,” former Alito clerk Megan Wold told the AP.

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The court issued a statement after the leak, acknowledging its authenticity while making clear that it is not necessarily indicative of what the court’s ruling in the case will be. Chief Justice John Roberts also stated that he was calling on the court’s marshal to lead an investigation into the matter.

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen through a fence with a "Closed Area" sign in Washington, May 11, 2022.

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen through a fence with a “Closed Area” sign in Washington, May 11, 2022. (STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

At his first public appearance after the leak, an annual meeting of lawyers and judges from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals., Roberts spoke out against the leak, while remaining adamant that it will not have any bearing on the court’s ruling.

“A leak of this stature is absolutely appalling,” Roberts said. “If the person behind it thinks that it will affect our work, that’s just foolish.”

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The Senate, meanwhile, passed a bill calling for additional security to protect the justices’ family members, as demonstrators have protested outside their private residences. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., also called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action against the protesters, which he argues have violated a federal law against picketing outside a judge’s home with the intent to affect a case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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