Surprise Update In Supreme Court Leak Investigation

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

In May 2022, the United States Supreme Court addressed the Dobbs decision referring to Roe Vs. Wade, the controversial previous SCOTUS judgment that encompassed abortion rights. During the deliberations over the case, and before any decision was made public, an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked in an unprecedented breach of SCOTUS protocols. Never before had such a leak happened, and the nature of the controversial deliberations caused massive backlash and reactions from those who wanted to see the previous opinion and judgment stand.

Riots and protests outside the homes of SCOTUS judges, never seen before, caused new protocols to be put in place, and the SCOTUS, who is supposed to be accountable only to the U.S. Constitution, not political parties, was caught in a political storm. The Judicial branch of the U.S. government was created to be apolitical and the leak with its resulting protests threatened the premise of the branch.

Crucial to the protests was the fact that the previous decision declared abortion rights to be constitutionally based, and therefore a federal issue. The current SCOTUS opinion by Alito leaked refuted that, declaring that the Constitution does not provide for such rights and therefore the questions of abortion legalities should go back to the states to be decided by each state for its own jurisdiction.

The investigation into the leak itself, and who the person or persons were who bear responsibility for the leak ensued, and has been going on until now.

Townhall reported Thursday that the nine-month-long investigation into who leaked a draft opinion came up inconclusive — leading to even more questions about who was behind the unprecedented breach of trust at the Court.

“In May 2022, this Court suffered one of the worst breaches of trust in its history: the leak of a draft opinion. The leak was no mere misguided attempt at protest. It was a grave assault on the judicial process. To meet our obligations as judges, we accept submissions from parties and amici, we engage advocates at oral argument, and we publish explanations of our final decisions. All of this we do in the open. Along the way, though, it is essential that we deliberate with one another candidly and in confidence. That phase of the judicial process affords us an opportunity to hone initial thoughts, reconsider views, persuade one another, and work collaboratively to strengthen our collective judgment. It is no exaggeration to say that the integrity of judicial proceedings depends on the inviolability of internal deliberations,” the Supreme Court released in a statement.

“For these reasons and others, the Court immediately and unanimously agreed that the extraordinary betrayal of trust that took place last May warranted a thorough investigation. The Chief Justice assigned the task to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and her staff,” the statement continued. “After months of diligent analysis of forensic evidence and interviews of almost 100 employees, the Marshal’s team determined that no further investigation was warranted with respect to many of the ’82 employees [who] had access to electronic or hard copies of the draft opinion.’ Marshal’s Report of Findings & Recommendations 11 (Jan. 19, 2023). In following up on all available leads, however, the Marshal’s team performed additional forensic analysis and conducted multiple follow-up interviews of certain employees. But the team has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.”

On Friday afternoon Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley, who was tasked by Chief Justice John Roberts with the leak investigation, issued an additional statement about interviews of Justices.

“During the course of the investigation, I spoke with each of the Justices, several on multiple occasions. The Justices actively cooperated in this iterative process, asking questions and answering mine. I followed up on all credible leads, none of which implicated the Justices or their spouses. On this basis, I did not believe that it was necessary to ask the Justices to sign sworn affidavits,” Curley said.

The perpetrator of the leak remains unknown, Townhall states.

That the judicial branch of the government could spend nine months investigating a leak in a very closed situation and come up with nothing is astounding. However, “the 20-page report of the investigation did provide new details about the circumstances of how the investigation was conducted and highlighted shortfalls in the high court’s protection of sensitive documents,” The Hill reports. “It also suggested it may never be able to determine who provided the draft of the opinion to Politico last May, more than one month before the Supreme court made it official.”

The interviews of 97 people who had access to the opinion, and reviewed both the court-issued laptops and mobile devices of those people as well as investigating who had communication with Politico, who broke the story. It is not known if personal devices were included in the investigation. Although signing affidavits signifying they denied disclosing information, some admitted to telling their spouses about the draft.

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