Breyer says pre-Dobbs leak was ‘unfortunate’: ‘I usually hope for compromise’

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Former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said the draft leaking the decision overturning Roe v. Wade was “unfortunate,” but he tries to avoid being angry about it.

“You try to avoid getting angry or that – you try in the job – you try to remain as calm, reasonable and serious as possible,” he told NBC’s Kristen Welker in an interview set to air Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “I think it was unfortunate.”

Almost two months before the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization opinion was released, a draft of the justices’ rulings was leaked. The draft, penned by Justice Samuel Alito, one of the staunchest conservatives on the court, declared that the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which established the right to an abortion, and the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld that right, had no grounding in the Constitution.

The leak created shockwaves by signaling that the court would hand the power to craft abortion laws to individual states, a number of which almost immediately enacted restrictions or bans on the procedure following the final ruling.

Breyer, 85, retired in 2022. He joined NBC as part of a promotional tour for his book “Reading the Constitution: Why I chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism.” Breyer was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in dissenting to the Dobbs ruling.

He told Welker that he thought a compromise with the more conservative justices about a 15-week abortion ban was possible, but it ultimately did not end up happening.

“I usually hope for compromise,” he said.

“I always think it’s possible,” Breyer continued. “I always think it’s possible, usually up until the last minute.”

It’s been nearly two years since the draft ruling was leaked. Since then, abortion has been a top political issue and reproductive rights have been a motivating factor in turning a number of voters out to the polls.

In the wake of the decision, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in February that frozen embryos are people, the first time a court has ever given rights and protections so early after conception. The Biden administration condemned the decision and said it was what was expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe and “paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families make.”

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