Constitutional law experts answer questions about SCOTUS leak

Can Congress intervene? What happens to the draft leaker? Will this make SCOTUS obsolete?

HOUSTON — The leak of a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade is generating a lot of questions about the leak, about the opinion and about the impact it might have if the draft reflects the court’s final decision. To answer some of those questions — at least the ones that can be answered at this point, KHOU 11 brought together constitutional law professors from here in Texas: Josh Blackman, Seth Chandler, Lynne Rambo and Lucas Powe.

“Certainly the first reaction was one of shock,” said Texas A&M Professor Emerita Rambo. “The second was a certain reaction to the content of it. I was not at all surprised about the content of it in terms of (the court) planning on overruling Roe, it’s hard to have been around and particularly to hear the oral argument and not expect that that was coming.”

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She added that her thoughts then turned to who would have leaked the draft opinion.

“How could somebody breach their ethical duties so blatantly?” asked University of Texas Professor Lucas Powe.

The justices on the Supreme Court need to trust each other to do their job, according to South Texas College of Law Professor Josh Blackman. 

“But now there’s no trust. Everyone is a suspect,” he said. “Every law clerk is now a suspect. Every justice is now a suspect. And there’s a cloud that will hover over the court for years to come after this leak. It’s absolutely devastating.”

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UH Professor Seth Chandler said his initial reactions reflected on the implications the draft decision would have on the ground in Texas, where a so-called “trigger law” will make abortion a felony within a month of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

VIEWER QUESTION: If the Supreme Court decided this in 1973 and reaffirmed it in 1992, how can changing justices change the interpretation of the Constitution?

VIEWER QUESTION:  Upon what basis can the Supreme Court justify restricting our freedoms?  

VIEWER QUESTION: “If SCOTUS is going to send everything back to the states to decide, does that make the court obsolete?

VIEWER QUESTION: Were the recent vaccine and mask mandates the gateway to allowing government control over human life?

VIEWER QUESTION: Could Congress simply pass a law legalizing abortion and President Biden sign it into law?

VIEWER QUESTION: The opinion references cases about same-sex issues. How can this also impact those cases?

VIEWER QUESTION: Can the person who leaked the opinion be held legally accountable for doing so?

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