New Supreme Court Tell-All Reveals Shady Tidbits About the Conservative Justices

Here are a few highlights of the grossness for those who don't plan to read hundreds of pages about it.

New Supreme Court Tell-All Reveals Shady Tidbits About the Conservative Justices
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Extremely well-sourced CNN senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic has a new book coming out, and if the excerpt published today is any indication, it will be a doozy. Nine Black Robes: Inside the Supreme Court’s Drive to the Right and Its Historic Consequences details how the appointees of former President Donald Trump shifted the court so dramatically that it overturned the nearly 50-year-old precedent of Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

For those who are not quite nerdy enough to take the time to read it, allow me to summarize a few notable tidbits:


SCOTUS heard arguments in the Dobbs case in December 2021, and shortly afterward, Justice Roberts reportedly tried to offer a compromise. He suggested the court dramatically change the holding of Roe from only letting states ban abortion after fetal viability (about 24 weeks) to letting them ban abortion after 15 weeks, which was the Mississippi law at the heart of the case. But then Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft finding no constitutional right to abortion at any stage of pregnancy came out in May 2022, and the leak rendered Roberts’ strategy moot:

The leak also had the effect of hindering internal debate among the justices in the Dobbs case. Justices later privately revealed that public disclosure of the 5-4 split and the tone of the opinion outright rejecting Roe v. Wade effectively froze the votes. That eliminated the opportunity for compromise, as can happen with hard-fought cases in the final weeks of negotiation.

Journalist John Harwood wrote that this reporting reinforced the suspicion that the leak came from the right, not the left. And we know that in the court’s sham leak investigation, the Justices themselves weren’t questioned—nor were their spouses. Hmm!

Chief Justice John Roberts broke tradition and rushed to empty out RBG’s office after her death

It’s apparently Supreme Court custom to give a justice’s staff ample time to clean out their chambers after they pass away—so much so that if a replacement is quickly confirmed, they’re given a temporary office to use until their permanent chambers are ready. But mere days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s September 2020 memorial service, Roberts booted her staff into a windowless theater where tourists had watched a film about the court pre-pandemic. To underscore exactly how fucked up that is, Justice Amy Coney Barrett wasn’t even confirmed as Ginsburg’s replacement until October 26. Keep it classy, John.

Brett Kavanaugh is a shifty little fuck

This one’s not that surprising, but it is validating: Justice Brett Kavanaugh is trying to play a delicate balancing game of wanting people to think he isn’t an ultraconservative hack while also wanting to stay in the good graces of the Republican apparatus that got him confirmed.

There are two notable examples. When the court voted 6-3 to expand employment protections for LGBTQ, Kavanaugh voted against it alongside Justices Alito and Clarence Thomas, but then tried to act like he was a Very Nice Guy by saying he respected gay and lesbian people. He wrote: “Millions of gay and lesbian Americans have worked hard for many decades to achieve equal treatment in fact and in law. They have exhibited extraordinary vision, tenacity, and grit—battling often steep odds in the legislative and judicial arenas, not to mention in their daily lives. They have advanced powerful policy arguments and can take pride in today’s result.” It’s giving showing up for a ribbon cutting for a bill you voted against.

Kavanaugh also joined an opinion attacking the credibility of a judge who rejected the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form, only to turn around later sending the judge a private note telling him he respected him. Kavanaugh also has a habit of saying one thing during (public) arguments about abortion cases and then voting the other way, naturally.

So glad that these nine unelected justices serve for life and get to weigh in on every little detail of our lives!

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