The leak was described as an “egregious breach of trust” by Chief Justice John Roberts, who immediately called upon the Marshal of the Court to investigate the situation and find the source of the leak.
The investigation consisted of more than 120 interviews of nearly 100 individuals, but all of them denied disclosing the opinion.
According to Fox News, the initial focus of the investigation was on some three dozen law clerks who work directly with the justices. These clerks were asked to turn over their phones. However, despite these efforts, the Marshal’s report states the investigation team has been “unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.”
The report also states that the investigation has determined that it is unlikely that a person outside the Court improperly accessed the Court’s information technology (IT) systems. After examining the Court’s computer devices, networks, printers, and available call and text logs, investigators have found no forensic evidence of who disclosed the draft opinion.
The report notes that the Court’s internal IT system was more vulnerable with more people working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. “The pandemic and resulting expansion of the ability to work from home, as well as gaps in the Court’s security policies, created an environment where it was too easy to remove sensitive information from the building and the Court’s IT networks, increasing the risk of both deliberate and accidental disclosures of Court-sensitive information,” the report says.
Despite the investigation’s lack of progress, investigators are continuing to “review and process some electronic data that has been collected and a few other inquiries remain pending,” according to the report. Michael Chertoff, former DHS secretary and a former federal appeals judge brought on by Roberts as a consultant on the Court’s internal investigative methods, stated, “The Court investigators will continue following up on leads if more information is learned.”
In the meantime, the Court has already taken steps to increase security and tighten controls regarding handling sensitive documents. Most significantly, the Chief Justice has also directed a comprehensive review of the Court’s information and document security protocols to mitigate the risk of future incidents. The Court’s efforts to increase security will protect sensitive information and maintain the public’s trust in the integrity of the Court’s decision-making process.
What is your reaction to the failure of the U.S. Supreme Court to identify the person who leaked a draft Court decision that signaled the overturning of Roe v. Wade? Who do you think leaked the draft? Please share your thoughts and views by emailing [email protected]. Thank you.