Samuel Alito cancels appearance at judicial conference after Roe draft leaks

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito canceled an appearance at an upcoming judicial conference, two days after a draft decision he authored overturning landmark abortion protections in Roe v. Wade leaked to Politico.

Reuters first reported that Alito was set to appear at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ judicial conference this week. The event hosts judges from the region, which encompasses Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Alito is the justice assigned to hear emergency Supreme Court appeals from the 5th Circuit.

Patricia McCabe, the court’s spokesperson, confirmed to the wire service that Alito would not be attending, but gave no further information about why he had canceled.

Alito, a member of the court’s six-justice conservative bloc, authored the draft majority opinion overturning the 1973 Roe decision, calling it “egregiously wrong from the start.”

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Photo: via Associated Press)

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled … It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” the draft reads.

The court’s official ruling on the matter is only final when published in the next two months, and justices can change their votes up until that point. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the draft was authentic on Tuesday, sparking national condemnation from Democrats and civil rights advocates.

The fact that the draft opinion leaked at all is shocking, and it’s extremely rare to get an insight into the court’s thinking before an opinion is published. Roberts vowed to investigate the leak, saying it amounted to a “betrayal.”

Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas were expected to speak at a similar judicial conference for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, although it’s unclear if they will actually attend, according to Reuters. The circuit conferences are the first in-person events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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