Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield suggested on Tuesday — without evidence or logic — that future Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson may be responsible for the leak of a draft ruling that would dismantle abortion rights.
There’s one very big problem with this theory: Jackson isn’t on the Supreme Court yet.
Nor was she on the court when it heard arguments in the case over Mississippi’s abortion restrictions. She isn’t involved in the ruling at all.
But in the flurry of speculation over who may have leaked the draft, which Politico published Monday, conservatives have singled out individuals by name even though they have no basis beyond their own speculation.
Jackson will be sworn in this summer after Justice Stephen Breyer retires. Stinchfield acknowledged that she’s not a justice yet. But he still posited that she may have hired clerks and they may have started work already. He has no evidence this is true; he’s nonetheless “sure” of it.
“I find it suspect that the first leak coming out of the Supreme Court in history comes shortly after Judge Jackson is confirmed,” Stinchfield said, as flagged by Media Matters for America’s Jason Campbell. “I want to know if her law clerks, who I am sure have already been hired, possibly even working at the high court already before her swearing in, have access to these draft decisions.”
“She would be my first suspect when it comes to the leak because Ketanji Brown Jackson is a radical left-wing activist, more radical than any other justice in the history of the Supreme Court,” he continued. “I believe she is capable of undermining the court this way.”
It’s little surprise that a conservative host would use this opportunity to go after Jackson, who will be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court in its history. During her confirmation hearings, Republicans repeatedly insisted she held radical views, simply for offenses like being a public defender, backing criminal justice reform within the mainstream and ruling like many other judges.
Along with Jackson, some conservatives have suggested that the leak came from the office of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court, who similarly has been accused of holding extreme views.
The other liberal justices on the Supreme Court, who are white, have not been accused in leak speculation.
Supreme Court opinions and drafts are incredibly closely guarded, which is part of why the leak was such a shock. Typically, the justices hold a preliminary vote on which way they will go, then select one member — Justice Samuel Alito, in this instance — to write the majority opinion.
Drafts of the opinion are then circulated among the justices and their support staff. Changes are lobbied for and made, and ultimately, justices may decide to go with another ruling altogether. As of now, the ruling is not final in this case.
The process does not, however, involve sharing drafts outside the court, so if someone is going to make this claim, they need actual evidence to back it up. Whether Stinchfield believes it or not.