Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is keeping mum on the recently leaked draft opinion that signals the pending overturning of nearly 50 years of precedent surrounding abortion access in the United States.
During a virtual speech at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School in northern Virginia Thursday evening, Alito declined to answer an audience member's question about the relationship between the nine justices on the high court following the monumental leak of the draft.
SUPREME COURT PREPARES FOR FIRST CONFERENCE SINCE LEAKED ABORTION OPINION
“This is a subject I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about today regarding, you know, given all the circumstances,” Alito responded, according to the Washington Post.
“The court right now, we had our conference this morning. We’re doing our work," Alito said. "We’re taking new cases. We’re headed toward the end of the term, which is also a frenetic time as we get our opinions out."
“So that’s where we are,” Alito said, noting the high court is slated to complete its term toward the end of June or by early July.
Alito's address to the university event's audience came just hours after the justices convened on Thursday in their first conference since the leaked draft opinion on May 2. During the Thursday conference, justices discussed among themselves. As usual, no clerks or other staff were permitted to join or observe the conference.
The leaked opinion over Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, if made official, would uphold Mississippi's 15-week ban on abortion and allow states to make rules broadly about limits on abortion.
Chief Justice John Roberts affirmed the authenticity of the opinion last week. Since then, there have been reports suggesting no other draft copies of the Dobbs opinion circulating around the court. Still, the chief justice has said the leaked draft, dated Feb. 10, is not the final version of the ruling.
Protests have occurred at numerous locations, including outside the Supreme Court and outside the homes of high court justices, since the leak, prompting lawmakers in Congress to back legislation increasing security measures for the justices.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department said it had tapped the U.S. Marshals Service to bring added security to the Supreme Court building.
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“Attorney General Garland continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Justices. The Attorney General directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police,” the Justice Department announced on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court is slated to release one or more opinions on Monday, according to its online calendar, though a ruling in the Dobbs case has not been scheduled and could come anytime between now and the end of the court's term this summer.