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Retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer addressed the leaked draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, expressing surprise that a fellow justice would leak such sensitive information. Breyer refrained from speculating on the motive of the leaker, stating that he has theories but did not want to delve into them during the interview with NBC’s Kristen Welker. He emphasized that he would be amazed if the leak came directly from a judge, pointing out that the leak occurred amid criticism of conservative justices for their decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The leak occurred prior to the Supreme Court issuing a 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, upholding a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Following the leak, there were reports of violent and destructive attacks targeting churches and pro-life groups, including a pro-life center in New York being attacked by protesters. Conservative justices also faced protests outside their homes in response to the leaked opinion, which effectively ended the constitutional right to abortion.

In an earlier portion of the interview, Breyer described the leak as “unfortunate” and emphasized the importance of remaining calm and reasonable in such situations. Justices are typically cautious about discussing issues that may come before the court, and Breyer maintained this approach during his retirement by being selective with his words during the interview with Welker. Despite the leak and the landmark decision, Breyer joined Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor in dissenting against the decision, asserting that he did not believe Roe should have been overturned.

When questioned about the possibility of reaching a compromise regarding abortion at 15 weeks, Breyer expressed his usual hope for compromise while being cautious with his words. He refrained from providing further details on the internal investigation into the leak, indicating disappointment and sorrow over the incident. Breyer also suggested that compromise is always possible, indicating his belief in the potential for finding common ground on contentious issues.

Reflecting on the future of the Dobbs case, Breyer acknowledged the possibility of it being overturned, noting the uncertainty surrounding such decisions. Breyer, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994, succeeded Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the court’s opinion on Roe v. Wade in 1973. Breyer retired in 2022, with President Biden nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson as his successor, who was confirmed in the same year. Throughout the interview, Breyer maintained a careful and measured approach in discussing the leaked decision and the impact it had on the contentious issue of abortion rights in the country.

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