Chief Justice John Roberts says barricaded Supreme Court was ‘gut-wrenching’ to see

By | September 10, 2022

Chief Justice John Roberts defended the legitimacy of the Supreme Court on Friday and said that it pained him to see the public prevented from going near the court, which he says will soon change.

“It was gut-wrenching every morning to drive into a Supreme Court with barricades around it,” Roberts said at the 10th Circuit Bench and Bar Conference in Colorado Spring, Colorado on Friday. 

Roberts described the last year as an unusual and difficult one, pointing to the public not be allowed inside the court, closed in 2020 because of the pandemic and fenced off in May when protests erupted outside the court and outside the homes of some Supreme Court justices after the unprecedented leak of a document hinting the court was set to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The barriers have come down around the Supreme Court and Roberts says the public will be welcomed back when the new session begins in October. 

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Roberts did not provide an update on the investigation he launched earlier this year into the identity of the individual who leaked the draft of the opinion that caused the firestorm in the abortion debate but Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch said at the same conference he expects a resolution soon.

“The chief justice appointed an internal committee to oversee the investigation,” Gorsuch said. “That committee has been busy, and we’re looking forward to their report, I hope, soon.”

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Gorsuch added that it is “terribly important” to identify the leaker. 

“Improper efforts to influence judicial decision-making, from whatever side, from whomever, are a threat to the judicial decision-making process,” Gorsuch said.

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Without mentioning the controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Roberts expressed dismay toward those who have questioned the legitimacy of the court in response to decisions they may not agree with.

“If the court doesn’t retain its legitimate function of interpreting the constitution, I’m not sure who would take up that mantle,” Roberts said. “You don’t want the political branches telling you what the law is, and you don’t want public opinion to be the guide about what the appropriate decision is.”

Associated Press contributed to this report