Northern Michigan Reacts to SCOTUS Opinion Leak

Local legal experts are weighing in on the leaked Supreme Court opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the case that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade.

Scotus Rejects Pa“There is no historical evidence that something like this has ever happened,” said Ferris State University Political Science Faculty Member David Takitaki. “A leak of this nature which the draft of an opinion comes into the public before the Supreme Court actually issues that opinion, absolutely unprecedented.”

The thought of a leak, as big as this one, would have never been thought of before—until Monday night.

“This is the first time to my knowledge that a full opinion like this has ever been leaked,” said Central Michigan University Political Science Professor and Pre-Law Advisor Kyla Stepp. “There have been some minor leaks before, nothing like this, not since the 70s. Even then it was leaks about behind the scenes finagling between the justices, it wasn’t a full opinion like this.”

One of the big questions surrounding the leak is: who did it?

“Individuals who have contact with this include the justices themselves, their clerks, and administrative people within the court itself,” said Takitaki. “The groundbreaking nature of the potential of this decision could motivate people from either side of the debate to leak this.”

Stepp said there’s already tons of speculation of of who leaked the draft opinion.

“The initial thought was it’s a disgruntled justice or one of their clerks that’s angry about the opinion, that they wanted to get it in front of the public sooner rather than later, show that the court really is this partisan institution now, it can’t be trusted to be above the law anymore, it can’t be trusted to be above partisan politics,” she said. “But in the other hand, there’s some speculation, which I think also makes sense, that it could be one of the Conservative justices or their clerks, one of the ones who’s a part of this opinion, who are either trying to solidify majority at this point.”

Stepp said this leaked opinion could have an impact on the Justices’ votes.

“It’s always possible for people to flip their vote right up until the end,” she said. “Now that it’s out there, nobody wants to be that Conservative justice who flips their vote and saves Roe V. Wade, so it’s going to solidify the majority.”

Takitaki said the opinion may be written differently than the one that was leaked, but the substance of it may not change.

“The draft opinion does contain what appears to be the fingerprints of several of the justices, and you can imagine even those in the majority might want to change the phrasing or add different elements of reference to the opinion,” he said. “It appears that we have at least a majority—a 5 justice majority. Historically, all of them have signaled in the past that they have been critical of both Roe and Casey, and there’s no reason to see why any of them would change their opinions.”

The leak could also have a major impact on the midterm elections.

“The original Roe V. Wade decision was perhaps one of the biggest events to mobilize Conservative voters back in the 70s. It really put together a Pro Life movement that, until then, just wasn’t even really a thing. It mobilized people like nothing before,” Stepp said. “I see this working the same way, but with Pro Choice groups and with Democratic voters. They could really mobilize people to not only get out and vote, but be more active during campaigning.”

Most importantly, they say, this leak could change the way people look at the Supreme Court from now on.

“The mystery and the security of the Supreme Court have always been part of what legitimizes the Supreme Court,” said Takitaki. “Now that we’re seeing this unprecedented material leak, I think there’s going to be continuing questions. We’ve seen questions about the last 3-4 Supreme Court appointments and the nature of the court itself, whether or not it should be expanded or contracted. I think all of those questions get only more intense that some of that veil of mystery has been popped.”

The Diocese of Gaylord is also reacting to the leaked draft opinion of the Supreme Court.

Bishop Jeffrey Walsh says he agrees with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts that the leak was, “an egregious violation”.

Bishop Walsh also says the church has been clear on their pro life stance for centuries.

He says the church remains hopeful that people, including the Supreme Court Justices, respect the gift of life.

“We’re just striving to help people to remain hope-filled, even after a Supreme Court decision that might overturn Roe v. Wade, that we know will go back to a legal process within the states,” said Bishop Walsh.

Bishop Walsh added the petitions in Michigan to support the Reproductive Freedom Act also go against the dignity of life.