The Supreme Court’s Marshal’s Office has increased their scrutiny of the police officers at the Supreme Court building. Typically, this agency does not investigate the activities of court staff members or examine cell phone data. The investigation is unusual because it occurs during the busiest part of the court’s annual term, when justices are pressed to decide on the toughest cases and meet deadlines in late June. But CNN has asked the court to review all of the personnel and phone records of its staff members to determine whether the NSA’s surveillance of Supreme Court employees could be legal.
A draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative, has sparked a political firestorm. The draft ruling, which has already led to the outrage of pro-life activists and Roe v. Wade supporters, has sparked widespread concern over abortion rights in the United States. But the court prides itself on its independence and the ability to make decisions outside of the political spectrum. In spite of the unpredictability of this decision, a draft opinion has given rise to national protests and dueling state legislative efforts.
Despite its secrecy, leaking of court documents and decisions is not unusual. The Dred Scott slavery decision, for instance, was leaked after two justices provided dissenting opinions to the press before the majority opinion. Other details of court proceedings have leaked, including the Bush v. Gore decision, revealing the inner workings of the court and its members. But while such leaks have hampered the public relations efforts of the Supreme Court, they have also prompted the court to investigate the source of the leaks.
Although many conservatives have argued that Roe is unconstitutional, the Washington Post reported that other Republican-appointed justices have asked the court to overrule it. The report claims that Justice Alito’s draft was leaked in a way that could undermine confidence in the high court. Nonetheless, the document’s authenticity is still a matter of debate, and the leak may be a “betrayal of confidences.”
The recent draft of the Supreme Court’s opinion could affect other minority groups rights. While a conservative majority may target such rights, they could limit privacy protections. The Court could also make it easier for police to spy on Americans through their cell phones. And, while many Americans have grown used to a certain level of privacy in the home, it is believed by many such restrictions will disproportionately impact minority women. The draft’s implications for civil liberties are yet to be determined.
In a draft opinion, the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The Court is expected to rule on the case in the next few months, and its opinion could lead to an overturn of Roe.