Democrats and leftists exploded with rage when a draft copy of a Supreme Court ruling that overturned abortion rights at the federal level was prematurely leaked, and that leak led to angry protests, threats of violence, and even at least one assassination attempt against a sitting justice.
Now Justice Samuel Alito has spoken out publicly about the leak and lamented how it served to make the conservative-leaning jurists “targets for assassination,” the Conservative Brief reported.
Those and other remarks from Alito came on Tuesday when he addressed a gathering at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.
Leak made “targets” out of conservative justices
“It was a great betrayal of trust by somebody, and it was a shock, because nothing like that had happened in the past, so it certainly changed the atmosphere at the court for the remainder of last term,” Justice Alito said, according to NBC News, of the leak in May of a draft copy of the Dobbs decision that overturned the prior precedents set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in order to return regulation of abortion to the individual states.
“The leak also made those of us who were thought to be in the majority in support of overruling Roe and Casey targets for assassination,” he added, “because it gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us.”
Indeed, after the initial leak of the draft in May but before the final version of the decision was released in late June, a California man named Nicholas Roske was arrested near the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh after he was found to be armed with weapons and other tools to effectuate a potential kidnapping and murder.
NBC News also noted that, just last week, a man from Georgia was arrested after he was found to be parked in a van outside the Supreme Court building with two handguns and a shotgun, though he claimed that he only sought to “deliver documents” to the nation’s high court.
Critiques of the court’s legitimacy go too far
According to Reuters, Justice Alito also took issue in his remarks at the Heritage Foundation with those who have openly questioned the “legitimacy” of the Supreme Court, given its current conservative majority.
Criticism of the court’s decisions is perfectly fine, Alito said, “But to say that the court is exhibiting a lack of integrity is something quite different. That goes to character, not to a disagreement with the result or the reasoning.”
And, in a not-so-subtle dig at outspoken critics like President Joe Biden and other prominent elected Democrats, the justice added, “Someone also crosses an important line when they say that the court is acting in a way that is illegitimate. I don’t think anybody in a position of authority should make that claim lightly.”
Hopeful for a return to normalcy
All of that said, and setting aside everything that has happened over the past two years, from the pandemic to the current critiques and protests and threats, NBC News noted that Justice Alito expressed some hope and optimism for a return to normalcy in the new term that just began this month.
“But that was last term. Now we’re in a new term,” Alito said of all that had occurred and added that the jurists and staffers all “want things to get back to normal, the way they were before all of this last term, before Covid.”