The Dobbs Leaker Intended to ‘Kill One of the Justices,’ Expert Says
One year after the leak of the Dobbs decision, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said the pro-life ruling made the conservative majority “targets of assassination” — a deadly outcome which a legal expert described as the “ultimate purpose” of the unauthorized disclosure.
Last May 2, Politico posted a draft of the landmark Supreme Court ruling, which returned abortion to the constitutional standard that prevailed for the 184 years of U.S. history before the controversial Roe v. Wade decision. A wave of pro-abortion violence swept the nation, targeting traditional churches, pro-life women’s centers — and the homes of the six Supreme Court justices believed to have crafted the decision. One year later, Alito said the still-unsolved release was designed to normalize the intimidation of constitutionalist judiciary.
“Those of us who were thought to be in the majority, thought to have approved my draft opinion, were really targets of assassination,” Justice Alito told The Wall Street Journal on Friday. “It was rational for people to believe that they might be able to stop the decision in Dobbs by killing one of us.”
He added, while the official investigation concluded it could not identify the individual who released the report, “I personally have a pretty good idea who is responsible.” But, he added, “that’s different from the level of proof that is needed to name somebody.” While most observers believe a left-leaning clerk, or justice, leaked the opinion in an attempt to alter the course of judicial history, liberals have countercharged that Alito released the draft decision to the media himself — charges Alito calls “infuriating” and “implausible.”
“This made us targets of assassination. Would I do that to myself? Would the five of us have done that to ourselves?” Alito, the author of Dobbs, asked WSJ’s James Taranto. “It was a part of an effort to prevent the Dobbs draft . . . from becoming the decision of the court,” one component of a six-week-long “campaign to try to intimidate the court.”
That campaign reached its apogee last June 8, when a mentally disturbed man who camouflaged himself appeared among raucous crowds of protesters outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home with the intention of assassinating the embattled justice. The suspect turned himself in before carrying out his plan. Police reported the man — who was armed with a gun, a tactical knife, pepper spray, and zip ties — confessed “he was upset about the leak of a recent Supreme Court draft decision regarding the right to an abortion” and believed killing Kavanaugh would “give his life meaning.” Media outlets reported that the would-be assassin, Nicholas Roske of California, identified online as a “trans gamer girl” and “sissy slave” named “Sophie.”
The murder plot is the foreseeable, possibly intended, effect of the Biden administration’s refusal to protect pro-life justices and soft targets following last May’s leak, a legal expert told The Washington Stand.
“I don’t think the Biden administration did anything to help protect the justices of any substance. They stood on the sidelines,” Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, told TWS. “They should have prosecuted individuals. Not a single individual was prosecuted.”
“It was pretty clear, both from the leak and from the assassination threats, that the ultimate purpose was to intimidate a justice into changing his or her mind or inciting people to kill one of the justices in the majority in order to stop the overturn of the abortion decisions,” Staver added.
He accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of maintaining “shameful silence” while “these justices’ lives were being threatened.”
Federal law makes it illegal to protest, picket, or parade outside a federal official’s home “with the intent of influencing” his or her official duties, such as changing the vote of a Supreme Court justice. Garland testified that U.S. Marshals decided of their own accord not to arrest any of the pro-abortion activists outside numerous justices’ homes.
But slide presentations specifically instructed law enforcement not to arrest anyone without first coordinating with the U.S. Attorney Attorney’s office. “[A]rrests of protestors are a last resort to prevent physical harm to the Justices [sic] and/or their families,” said training documents exposed by Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.). The law, the slides contended, “logically goes to criminal threats and intimidation,” not other forms of protest specifically listed in the statute.
Democrats slow-walked legislation that would have given justices greater protections, with then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) insisting that “no one is in danger” just one day after the Kavanaugh arrest. “The justices are protected.”
“Perhaps some Democrats may want this dangerous climate hanging over the justices’ heads as they finish the term,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last summer.
The Biden administration’s inaction comes amid a surging wave of threats targeting judges. The number of threats against judges and jurors skyrocketed 387% between 2015 and 2021, from 926 to 4,511 six years later, according to statistics released by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Congress has since voted to give the justices around-the-clock protection by U.S. Marshalls outside their homes. Alito says he’s now “driven around in basically a tank, and I’m not really supposed to go anyplace by myself without the tank and my members of the police force.”
Pro-life advocates marked the ignominious anniversary by declaring that violence, against grown jurists or unborn children, will not prevail. “Here is our message to those who use violence to impose their violent pro-abortion ideology: You will not win. Love is stronger than hate,” said Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America’s vice president of government affairs, Marilyn Musgrave. “The overwhelming majority of Americans are on the side of life. Threats and intimidation will not deter us from our mission. We will not rest until every child in America is protected and all mothers are free from abortion coercion.”
Nonetheless, the offender will probably elude justice, Staver said. “I don’t expect anyone’s ever going to be held accountable” for the Dobbs disclosure, Staver told TWS. “I wish that their investigation would have been more definitive.” The list of potential leakers is “very short, and Justice Alito would be in a good position to know that list of names.”
“That person, and probably more than one person who assisted with this leak, should be held accountable,” Staver concluded.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.