Politico named a Pulitzer finalist for publishing leak of Dobbs draft opinion, which sparked violence

Politico reporters were named as Pulitzer finalists for their coverage of the Supreme Court and abortion – including the highly controversial leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — the case that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade

On its website, the Pulitzer Board named Politico’s Heidi Pryzbyla, Peter S. Canellos, Hailey Fuchs, and Josh Gerstein as finalists for “Breaking News Reporting.” 

“For exclusive coverage of the unprecedented leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade and giving states the power to regulate abortion,” the site read.

Gerstein was one of the reporters who helped leak the draft opinion in Dobbs. The leak stirred widespread unrest – including increased harassment against pro-life pregnancy centers – and prompted speculation that someone within the Court attempted to undermine the justices’ decision. 

Justice Samuel Alito, who penned the majority opinion, reportedly said the leak made he and other justices “targets of assassination.” 

“Those of us who were thought to be in the majority, thought to have approved my draft opinion, were really targets of assassination,” he said, according to The Wall Street Journal. And in fact, an armed man was arrested for plotting to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

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Protesters notably showed up at justices’ homes, raising questions about whether they violated federal law. More specifically, Section 1507 of U.S. Code imposes fines or imprisonment for that type of behavior. 

As Live Action News previously noted, pro-life centers encountered threats, vandalism, and even firebombing as the nation awaited the final decision in Dobbs. The Department of Homeland Security even released a memo in May that warned of a “significant increase in violent threats—many made online via social media and some of which are under investigation—directed toward some US Supreme Court Justices and the Supreme Court building.”

It added: “The volume of violent threats targeting Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, other public officials, clergy, healthcare officials and providers, and others associated with the abortion debate are likely to persist and may increase leading up to and following the issuing of the Court’s official ruling.”

By October, a study from the Crime Research and Prevention Center reported 135 attacks on pro-life groups between May — when the draft was released — and September of 2022. Meanwhile, abortion groups and abortion supporters only saw six attacks.

As Politico noted, the leak was unprecedented. “No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending,” it said

Amid intense scrutiny, the Court conducted an internal investigation involving 82 employees but “was unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.” A statement from the Court blasted the leak as an “extraordinary betrayal of trust” and said it “was no mere misguided attempt at protest. It was a grave assault on the judicial process.”

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