Breyer reflects on ‘hope for compromise’ before Supreme Court 2022 abortion ruling – Washington Examiner

Retired Justice Stephen Breyer reflected on the 2022 leak of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, saying that despite his dissent from the majority, he maintained a “hope” for compromise.

Breyer, who has since been succeeded by President Joe Biden‘s nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, was asked by NBC News’s Meet the Press whether the justices had discussed a compromise to limit abortion access at 15 weeks instead of the decision the high court ultimately made to allow states to impose laws severely restricting such procedures.

“The normal situation is before something is written in the conference, people, in some form or other, will discuss what they’re thinking of writing. Not always and not identical. But there’s usually some discussion,” Breyer said of the decision-making process, sidestepping the question about whether there was discussion about a compromise behind the scenes.

NEW: Former Justice Stephen Breyer reflects on how the Dobbs decision played out.@kwelkernbc: “Did you think a compromise was possible” around the abortion decision?

Breyer: “I always think it’s possible, usually up until the last minute.”

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) March 22, 2024

“I usually hope for compromise,” Breyer said, adding, “I always think it’s possible, usually up until the last minute.”

The May 2, 2022, leak of the Supreme Court’s 6-3 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization draft opinion signaling the overturning of Roe v. Wade reportedly quashed an attempt by Chief Justice John Roberts to persuade his Republican-appointed colleague, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, to vote for a more “middle-ground” position, according to a July 2022 report from CNN.

But following the unprecedented leak of the opinion, which spawned immediate unrest that lasted for weeks both outside the court and at the justices’ private homes, Roberts’s efforts became hampered when Kavanaugh’s intention to strike down Roe became public record.

Three Democratic appointees to the high court, Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Breyer, dissented from the decision by Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Kavanaugh to overturn Roe. Roberts separately agreed with the majority’s decision to uphold the Mississippi law at issue in the case but did not agree with completely overturning Roe.

After the Dobbs decision was finalized in June 2022, Breyer retired just days later after previously announcing his plans to step down.


Breyer, 85, is set to release a book on March 26 titled Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism, laying out an argument critiquing the methods used by many Republican-appointed justices to interpret the Constitution.

His full interview on Meet The Press is slated to air Sunday morning.