Supreme Court informant performed valuable public service

I never thought we’d see another Washington D.C. situation like All the President’s Men, but it happened in 2022.

The informant who leaked the Supreme Court draft ruling likely to overturn Roe vs. Wade sent shock waves throughout the world. Pro-life advocates hailed it as a huge victory, while abortion rights supporters responded with condemnation.

No matter what side of the issue someone takes, we should all agree that the informant did a good thing. Insiders wanted to keep the draft bottled up in the federal judicial branch. They didn’t want the public to know about it until everything was final.

The informant was in many ways a modern day Paul Revere. He or she was like the canary in a coal mine, a warning of something monumental that looms on the horizon.

Now everyone is aware that states are likely to gain the right to outlaw abortion. Political wheels are already turning to ban it in some states. In others there’s an effort to safeguard the right to choose.

Meanwhile many people are calling the leak a severe breach of trust. There’s an investigation aimed at finding out who’s responsible.

I heard on a public radio talk show that if the informant is a lowly law clerk it could result in that person being shunned by the nationwide legal community, effectively denied any future opportunity for professional recognition.

It might have also been one of the Supreme Court justices. It’s even possible that several of them agreed to leak the information.

In that instance experts believe there’s not much that could be done about it. There’s no established procedure for throwing someone off the Supreme Court. Authors of the Constitution considered judges appointed for life to be above reproach.

If it’s a person who could face professional consequences, it means that it took a tremendous amount of courage and conviction to bring the information to light. There was an admirable willingness to put the general public first, ahead of any personal stake that would lead many people to keep quiet.

I was too young to remember much about Watergate. I recall being annoyed at how the hearings interrupted daytime game shows in the summer. I learned to appreciate Woodward and Bernstein later, when I decided as a college undergraduate to pursue journalism.

The Politico news organization should shield the Supreme Court informant in the exact same way that Deep Throat was shielded.

It took about 30 years before we learned that Deep Throat was a minor FBI agent. I thought right before it was announced that their source might have been former President George H.W. Bush because of his 1970s United Nations connection, and that it was going to be revealed since his son George W. Bush had just won a second presidential term.

It was nothing so dramatic, nothing like a political novel or movie. Instead Deep Throat was just a rank and file person, someone who stepped out of the shadows to do what seemed right.

He made a huge impact. Likewise the abortion informant might do the same thing if the leak prompts meaningful dialogue about future implications.

There should be concern among both pro-choice and pro-life advocates that there could be vast amounts of time, effort and money spent on political battles in state legislatures.

The result would only be partial victories for the pro-life movement. Anyone with enough money for plane fare or bus fare and a short motel stay will still be able to travel to a state where abortion is legal.

A more complete victory will happen only if abortion becomes obsolete. It would be through education, effective use of birth control, services for poor or unwed mothers, and support for the nationwide adoption system.

The pro-life movement should continue to reach out to women with unplanned pregnancies. It should continue to offer help and support, to encourage them to choose life.

Hopefully the expected court ruling won’t lead to greater political and social tension. Instead it’s important to aim for a positive, caring sense of community and to seek the best possible solutions.

— Jim Muchlinski is a longtime reporter and contributor to the Marshall Independent


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