When SCOTUS Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion, which was endorsed by four of the high court’s five remaining conservatives, was leaked in early May prior to the Roe v. Wade decision, everyone was startled, since a leak of a SCOTUS opinion had never occurred in modern history.
The decision and subsequent judgement reversed Roe v. Wade and upheld a 15-week abortion prohibition in Mississippi. Officially, the court found 5-4 to overturn ‘Roe’ and 6-3 to uphold the prohibition.
The Supreme Court Justices were shocked and spoke out about the unusual disclosure at the time.
Justice Clarence Thomas lamented the leak and said it has forever changed the court. Justice Roberts called the breach “absolutely appalling” and a “betrayal” by “one bad apple. The thing that upset me is that it will give the wrong impression of the workforce” at the court, Roberts said at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals conference. “One bad apple can change the perception of the court.”
“A leak of this sort is absolutely appalling,” Roberts said. “And if the person behind it thinks it’s going to have an effect on our deliberative process, it’s also foolish.”
The leak prompted an inquiry that, months later, still has not identified the culprit and appears to have stopped. The U.S. Supreme Court still has not identified who leaked a draft of its landmark abortion ruling in early May. Nevertheless, Fox News reports that detectives have limited the list of possibilities.
“But multiple sources tell Fox News the investigation into the approximately 70 individuals in the court who may have had access to the draft opinion has been narrowed,” the outlet reported. “Sources say much of the initial focus was on the three dozen or so law clerks, who work directly with the justices on their caseload. Fox News had previously reported those law clerks were asked to turn over their cellphones and sign affidavits. It is unclear whether those clerks have all cooperated,” the news source said.
The Hill recently reported that over seven months after the court’s current term began, the identity of the leaker remains unknown.
“Finding out who did it should not be so hard if you really wanted to know the answer. Figure out who had access to the draft opinion, a universe consisting of justices, possibly their spouses, their clerks, secretaries, and other court personnel, and start asking questions. Phone logs and other electronic evidence might show communications between possible suspects and Politico,” the report stated.
“Then start asking questions and interviewing those in a position to know. The FBI is armed with Title 18 U.S.C. §1001, making it a criminal offense to give a false statement to the FBI. Then, there is also the possibility of putting witnesses before a federal grand jury. There is also the question of motive. Was the leaker a liberal who wanted to warn the country about what was afoot and bring public pressure to bear on justices who might change their minds? Or was the leaker a conservative who was anxious about a vote or two going wobbly that might turn the court to a different outcome?” the report continued.
“There is also the possibility that someone wanted to take the sting out of the opinion and make it anticlimactic so that the court would avoid being swept up in a vortex of public opinion further undermining its legitimacy. The eventual identity of the leaker might reveal his or her motives and allow the institution to rid itself of the “one bad apple” that had done so much damage to the court’s integrity,” the report added.
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
In October, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said he had not been informed that the leaker has been identified, and last month, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch gave a potential timeline and said the Court may soon announce at least some findings from its internal investigation. CONTINUE READING…