Top officials in President Joe Biden’s Justice Department reportedly don’t believe leaking a draft Supreme Court opinion on abortion to the media was a federal crime.
On Monday, Politico published a leaked draft ruling from the court, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established the so-called constitutional right to abortion.
Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the draft ruling was real, but stressed that it was not a final decision. He also ordered an investigation into the source of the leak.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way,” he said in a statement. “This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.”
According to Fox News, the leak has even prompted left-wing groups to organize protests outside the homes of the five justices appointed by Republican presidents: Alito, John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett.
But according to a new report, the Biden administration’s Department of Justice doesn’t think a federal crime occurred.
“Administration officials said the Justice Department’s view, at this early stage, is that the leak did not constitute a federal crime,” NBC News reported Thursday. “Accordingly, neither the FBI nor other federal law enforcement organizations are involved in any investigation, the officials said.”
“Some legal experts said the leak could be considered a technical violation of a federal law that prohibits giving a government document to someone not authorized to receive it. But under long-standing Justice Department practice, such actions are not prosecuted when the material is conveyed to a reporter for the purpose of making it public,” NBC added.
The outlet also said the DOJ’s stance could change if it thought “the document was obtained through some criminal action, such as trespassing or computer hacking,” the outlet said.
Former Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, said it was certainly possible a crime had occurred.
“It could be obstructing the administration of justice, the due process of justice,” Barr told SiriusXM’s “The Megyn Kelly Show.”
“Obstruction means you’re attempting to influence, you know, through some kind of wrongdoing.”
The draft majority opinion showed that the court had voted to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 ruling that upheld Roe.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito wrote in the leaked draft.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
“The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions,” he added. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion.”