How Sam Alito Masterminded Overturning Roe

INSIDE: Rudy G ... Mark Meadows ... Jack Smith
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 9: United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, C, attends the 2023 Antonin Scalia Memorial Dinner that is part of the Federalist Society's 2023 National Lawyers Convention at the Washi... WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 9: United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, C, attends the 2023 Antonin Scalia Memorial Dinner that is part of the Federalist Society's 2023 National Lawyers Convention at the Washington Hilton Hotel on November 9, 2023, in Washington, DC. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, the night's keynote speaker, were also in attendance. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

Behind The Scenes Of The Dobbs Decision

The NYT has a expansive new inside look at how the Supreme Court came to overturn Roe v. Wade with last year’s Dobbs decision. Drawing on interviews with court insiders and unusual access to internal court documents, Jodi Kantor and Adam Liptak pull back the velvet curtain on the justices’ deliberations:

To dismantle that decision, Justice Alito and others had to push hard, the records and interviews show. Some steps, like his apparent selective preview of the draft opinion, were time-honored ones. But in overturning Roe, the court set aside more than precedent: It tested the boundaries of how cases are decided.

The leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion was not the only behind-the-scenes machinations going on in the months that the case was pending. The NYT describes a public-relations-style effort by the conservative justices to “create the appearance of distance” between the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and taking up Dobbs in order not to look as unseemly as they in fact were. (For a shorter version of the story, here are five takeaways.)

As for the leak itself, the story leaves the strong impression that it was more beneficial than harmful to the court majority that opposed abortion, effectively putting an end to a joint effort by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Stephen Breyer to win over one of the conservatives to a more restrained approach on abortion law.

Through it all, Alito emerges as the implacable foe of Roe.

Seems Like A Big Problem


A binder containing highly classified information related to Russian election interference went missing at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, raising alarms among intelligence officials that some of the most closely guarded national security secrets from the US and its allies could be exposed, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. …

In the two-plus years since Trump left office, the missing intelligence does not appear to have been found.

The binder wasn’t found at Mar-a-Lago and doesn’t figure in the charges against Trump in the case.

Jury Gets Rudy Giuliani Defamation Case

In the end, Rudy Giuliani balked at testifying in the trial of the defamation claims brought by Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. The end result was that Giuliani put on no witnesses in his defense and the case quickly moved to closing arguments.

The jury got the case sooner yesterday than expected and was able to get in three hours or so of deliberations before calling it day. Keep a close eye on the jury today. It’s a Friday. Juries like to finish their work before the weekend and not drag the case into another week. Plus, all this jury must decide is the size of the damage award since Giuliani has already been deemed liable. I’m expecting them to come up with a BIG number. Stay tuned.

See The Parallels?

In his closing argument, the attorney for plaintiffs Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss told the jury of Rudy Giuliani: “He has no right to offer defenseless civil servants up to a virtual mob.”

I initially saw the quote out of context and assumed it was from the fight over the gag order against Trump in his civil fraud trial in New York, where he has repeatedly attacked the judge’s law clerk. It’s the same modus operandi. Take a low-level public employee, demonize them, sic MAGA extremists on them, then disavow any responsibility for what transpires.

Incidentally, an appeals court yesterday rejected Trump’s challenge of the gag order in the New York case.

About Those Apology Letters …

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the apology letters written by Trump co-defendants Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell and Scott Hall as part of their plea deals in the Georgia RICO case.

Chesebro’s and Powell’s apologies were notably short: one sentence apiece.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, to be honest, but Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis by her own account got exactly what she was looking for:

“If you do something wrong that impacts the community … then there needs to be real contrition. The contrition doesn’t have to be some poetic melody. It doesn’t have to be pages and pages. Sometimes you just need ‘I’m sorry.’ And if you get ‘I’m sorry,’ then we can move on and move past (it) if it’s a sincere apology. … It doesn’t need to be very long. In fact, all I would rather is a sentence. But I think it’s important.”

Mark Meadows Case Back In Court

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments today on whether Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows can remove the Georgia RICO case to federal court. Meadows lost at the district court.

Jack Smith Is Still Interested In John Eastman

Special Counsel Jack Smith has obtained certified copies of the transcripts of former Trump attorney John Eastman’s testimony in his California disbarment proceedings, according to new reporting from Politico. Eastman was charged in the Georgia RICO case and is Co-conspirator No. 2 in the Jan. 6 indictment of Donald Trump. It’s not clear whether Smith plans to charge Eastman, eventually use him as a witness, or what exactly is going on.

No. 3 At DOJ Is Set To Leave Her Post

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, a former civil rights lawyer, is planning to leave the Justice Department early next year.

Former Senior FBI Official Gets Jail Time

Charles McGonigal, the former FBI counterintelligence official who pleaded guilty to helping sanctioned Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska manipulate the sanctions regime, was sentenced to 50 months in prison. The judge said she showed some leniency because of McGonigal’s “long, distinguished career as a law enforcement professional.” Ummm …

Senate Delays Its Holiday Recess

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is planning to keep the Senate in session next week while negotiations continue on a border proposal that can be packaged with Ukraine aid – even though its unclear if any deal eventually reached in the Senate would pass the House.

For Your Radar …

A federal judge in Baltimore declined for now to block the Naval Academy from using race in admissions in a case brought by the same group that persuaded the Supreme Court to knock down race-conscious admissions in higher education. The Supreme Court ruling did not apply to the service academies, which is the next front in the battle over affirmative action.

Assessing COP

  • Elizabeth Kolbert: “Three decades after agreeing to avoid ‘dangerous’ warming, the nations of the world today acknowledged that this would involve ‘transitioning away from fossil fuels.’ … Depending on how you look at things, the statement represents either a genuine breakthrough that will allow the globe to avert catastrophe or a point so obvious that what it really reveals is how far offtrack things have veered.”
  • Emily Atkin: “The final deal at COP28 is technically historic, in that it is the first deal that specifically calls on all nations to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels. The problem with these quotes and headlines is that they convey almost zero meaning. Because when you leave a massive problem like climate change unaddressed for decades, almost anything you do represents ‘historic’ progress.

Have A Good Weekend!

See you back here on Monday.

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