For all the left’s cries of “threats to democracy” and “insurrection” about things like uncensored speech on Twitter or literally walking peacefully through a door, what happened Monday night appeared to be a far truer and more dangerous example of treasonous insurrection.
A purported first draft of the Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson, overturning Roe v. Wade and its protection of a woman’s legal ability to kill her baby, was leaked by an unknown source to Politico in an all-out attempt to agitate chaos and undermine the U.S. Supreme Court.
It seems obvious the leak was intended to incite fury with the potential to pressure the justices into changing their final votes, to push Congress to try to codify Roe, and to pressure Joe Biden to rush to pack the court. The justices and their families are now targets for threats attempting to sway their decisions, and the 2020 summer of rage is surely recent in the bench’s memory. Politico as good as admitted the leak’s coercive purpose:
Deliberations on controversial cases have in the past been fluid. Justices can and sometimes do change their votes as draft opinions circulate and major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote-trading, sometimes until just days before a decision is unveiled. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months.
The Supreme Court is one of the few American political institutions whose authority is still widely and bipartisanly recognized, although Democrat chatter of packing the court last year has already eroded it. Such a leak is an outright attack on the court’s gravity and process, the justices’ trust amongst each other, and the rule of law.
If you want to find anything in America’s recent political memory that fits the bill of actual insurrection, look no further than this. Undermining the judicial process in such a calculated and consequential way is textbook insurrection, defined by Merriam-Webster as “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.”
Neither speech on Twitter that challenges the regime’s narrative nor the events of Jan. 6, 2021, pose nearly the threat to the legitimacy of the U.S. government that this attack on our highest court of law could.
Chief Justice John Roberts must oversee a swift and thorough investigation. As constitutional law professor Josh Blackman wrote Monday night, any apparent participants in the leakage plot “should be referred to the Department of Justice for potential criminal activity, including theft of government property.”
As far as the court is concerned, the sooner it issues its official decision, the better — for the legitimacy of its decision in Dobbs and for the legitimacy of the court itself. Since Marbury v. Madison, America has always looked to the bench to be the final say in political debates. If we allow the court’s very process of upholding the rule of law to become poisoned by partisan leaks with the goal of forcing political pressure, the consequences will cause real damage to the republic.
Elle Reynolds is an assistant editor at The Federalist, and received her B.A. in government from Patrick Henry College with a minor in journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.