December 3, 2022
Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would undo Roe v. Wade "absolutely appalling" on Thursday, in his first public appearance since the leak.

Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would undo Roe v. Wade “absolutely appalling” on Thursday, in his first public appearance since the leak.

Roberts made the remark during an appearance at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference in Atlanta, according to a report. The chief justice also said that he hoped “one bad apple” would not affect “people’s perception” of the high court, CNN reported, and he added that “the person” or “people” who leaked the document are “foolish” if they think it will affect the court’s work.

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The report notes that Roberts appeared to be “upbeat” at the meeting of lawyers and judges on Thursday despite the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court. He arrived with a security detail and received a standing ovation, per the report.

At one point, Roberts called on Justice Clarence Thomas, who was in attendance Thursday and will speak at the same conference on Friday, to give his opinion on the recently changed format of Supreme Court oral arguments. Thomas, who for years rarely asked questions during oral arguments, only provided Roberts with a thumbs up, per the report.

“That was a thumbs up,” Roberts said, eliciting laughter in the room.

Unlike Roberts and Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito canceled an appearance at a similar judicial conference that began on Thursday after the draft opinion, authored by him, leaked. Alito was scheduled to participate in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Conference.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Roberts said an investigation has been ordered into how the draft opinion was leaked and published.

The court confirmed the leaked draft was “authentic” but stressed that it does “not represent a decision by the Court.”

Roberts, in a separate statement, called the leak a “betrayal” designed to “undermine the integrity” of the high court, adding that he had instructed the marshal of the court to launch an investigation into the leak.

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The Supreme Court is currently in recess. The justice will gather again in Washington, D.C., to discuss pending petitions and outstanding opinions on May 12.

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