- The original decision Roe v. Wade of 1973 was prone to leaks, according to legal historians.
- The then chief of justice was furious when the news broke, an author wrote in the Washington Post.
- But Monday’s publication of a draft opinion is unprecedented.
Washington, DC, is reeling from Monday’s leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that appears to show the court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
But it’s not the first leak associated with the Supreme Court or historic abortion case – the original decision was also leaked five decades ago, infuriating the then chief of justice so much that he threatened test employees with a lie detector. .
In 1973, both Roe v. Wade that some of his deliberations were leaked to Time magazine and the Washington Post, which both published articles before the ruling was made public.
Then Justice Chief Warren Burger was “livid” from the leak and wrote to all judges demanding that the traitor be found, lawyer and author James Robenalt wrote in the Washington Post.
He said that if no one came forward, he would request lie detector tests for court employees, according to Robenalt’s account in The Post.
Robenalt is the author of “Roe v. Wade,” a book about the history of that decision, in which he claimed to have interviewed the leaked clerk, Larry Hammond, who worked for then Judge Lewis Powell. .
Hammond told the Time reporter of the impending ruling in the background, only for publication after the announcement was made, but a delay in the Supreme Court trial meant the Time article came out first, Robenalt wrote. .
Hammond offered his resignation to Powell, but he was turned down, Robenalt wrote in The Post.
The details of the court’s internal deliberations on Roe v. Wade had already leaked in late 1972, according to Jonathan Petersprofessor of media law at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Peters wrote in a Twitter thread that an unknown person leaked a memo sent by Judge William O. Douglas, which was published in a Washington Post article on the court’s deliberations.
This also infuriated Burger, who demanded that no employees speak to reporters, which led to what has been called the “20-second rule,” Peters wrote. This meant that no employee would survive more than 20 seconds if he were caught talking to the press, Peters wrote.
However, leaks from the Supreme Court are rare. CBS News, which did not cite named sources, said a full-scale FBI investigation into the source of the leak is planned.