Attorney General Bill Barr said Wednesday the leak of the Supreme Court’s memo on overturning Roe v. Wade was an “unforgivable sin.”
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When Politico first reported that the court could consider striking down federal abortion protections late on Monday night, a draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito set off a firestorm.
Despite protests from both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups that descended on the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the leak’s authenticity and vowed to investigate the source.
In an interview on Fox News, Barr suggested that the leaker could face criminal charges — even listing what he called a number of federal laws applicable to the leaker.
In this episode, Martha MacCallum explains how the media can reveal the person’s identity in order to create a cottage industry around them that includes book deals and other promotional opportunities.
‘Well, I hope they build it while they’re in jail,’ Barr replied. ‘Because this is a grave — an unforgivable sin, and I think it is likely they’re going to find out who leaked it.’
The former AG demanded ‘the full weight of the law to be brought against them.’
According to Barr, one possible charge could be ‘fraud against the United States,’ he said, which ‘involves wrongdoing intended to impede the functioning of the government.’
‘They are also statutes on obstructing or trying to interfere or influence the due administration of justice by committing acts like this,’ he added. ‘It could also involve using government documents for one’s own benefit, converting government documents.’
‘So there are a number of criminal statutes that were potentially violated here,’ Barr explained.
He expressed confidence that the Justice Department will prosecute the person who leaked the draft.
‘If they’re called on to do it, I think they will. The other option at least initially would — the court has virtually unlimited power to protect its own procedures and processes. They can use compulsory power to do their own investigation,’ Barr stated.
‘But at the end of the day, I think — because criminal punishment I think is called for here — I think at some point it’s going to have to go to the Justice Department.’
‘We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,’ the draft states of the landmark 1973 case.
‘The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.’
Barr also appeared on Larry Kudlow’s show on Fox Business today where he reiterated his belief that the leaker should be put in prison.
Roberts’s statement confirming the leak referred to it as a ‘betrayal of the confidences of the Court.’
Republican outrage over the leak of the draft has been directed at the act of leaking, whereas Democratic outrage has been directed at the possibility that a nearly 50-year precedent regarding the right to privacy could soon be nullified by the court’s 5-3 right-leaning majority.
If Roe is overturned, 26 states are likely to limit or outlaw abortions.
According to Biden, the proposed decision ‘calls into question the fundamental right to privacy — the right to make personal choices about marriage, whether to have children, and how to raise them.’
Senator Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi both called the opinion an ‘abomination.’
Several lawmakers have accused the Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett of lying during their confirmation processes when they declared Roe v. Wade as precedent.
However, their response does not necessarily imply that they will not overturn the case, according to Barr.
‘I don’t think those responses could fairly be understood as saying it would never be overruled,’ he asserted on Wednesday.
‘I think they all made clear that, like any other precedent, it is subject to stare decisis and weighed in some degree of deference. But the whole doctrine of stare decisis also has in it some factors that are consulted, that may lead a court to overrule a prior precedent.’
Nevertheless, he pointed out, Alito’s opinion is only a confirmation of his personal views, not those of his fellow justices.
The controversial draft relates to the case Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health, in which state officials are seeking to ban abortions after 15 weeks. Prosecutors on behalf of the state have also asked the high court to overrule Roe v. Wade as a whole.
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In the draft opinion, the justices provide a ringing denunciation of the 1973 ruling that guaranteed the right to abortion under the federal constitution and a 1992 decision that effectively maintained it, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote in the draft.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he stated in the document, which is titled “Opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The Roe decision has caused the death of millions of babies since its 1973 ruling. As a result of its federal abortion access guarantee and its shoddy legal reasoning, this has been regarded by many conservatives as one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time.
Mississippi’s last abortion clinic is the defendant in the case. A final ruling is likely to occur in June.