A US Supreme Court investigation failed to identify the culprit who leaked a draft Court decision calling for the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion at the federal level.
On May 2, 2022, Politico published a draft of the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. Organization, the leading abortion case that would eventually overturn Roe v. Wade. The unprecedented leak sparked protests across the country and at judges’ homes that continued for months.
Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak an “egregious breach of trust.” The day after the leak, Roberts asked the court bailiff to investigate the situation and find the source who leaked the document to Politico.
Investigators interviewed more than 120 interviews of nearly 100 employees, all of whom denied disclosing the opinion, the court said.
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Sources told Fox News over the summer that the initial focus was on about three dozen paralegals who work directly with judges. Those employees were asked to hand over their phones.
According to the sheriff’s report, the investigative team “has been unable to identify a person responsible because of a preponderance of the evidence.”
“The investigation has determined that it is unlikely that a person outside the Tribunal had improperly accessed the Tribunal’s information technology (IT) systems,” the report said. “After examining the Court’s available computing devices, networks, printers, and call and text message records, investigators have found no forensic evidence revealing the draft opinion.”
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The report notes that the Court’s internal IT system was more vulnerable with more people working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The pandemic and the resulting expansion of the ability to work from home, as well as gaps in the Court’s security policies, created an environment in which it was all too easy to remove sensitive information from the Court building and IT networks. , which increased the risk of both deliberate and accidental disclosures of confidential information of the Court,” the report says.
The Court Clerk Code of Conduct expressly prohibits clerks from discussing the work of the court. It states that “the temptation to discuss interesting pending or decided cases among friends, spouses, or other family members…must be scrupulously resisted.”
However, Marshall’s report notes that some of those interviewed during the investigation admitted to telling their spouse or partner about Dobbs’ draft opinion in violation of the Court’s confidentiality rules. Some of the staff, the report adds, handled Dobbs’ draft “in ways that deviated from their standard process for handling draft opinions.”
Investigators continue to “review and process some electronic data that has been collected and some other inquiries remain pending,” the report says.
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“Court investigators will continue to follow up on leads if more information is obtained,” said Michael Chertoff, a former DHS secretary and former federal appeals judge hired by Roberts as a consultant on the court’s internal investigative methods. “In the meantime, the Court has already taken steps to increase security and tighten controls regarding the handling of confidential documents.
“Most importantly, the Chief Justice has also led a comprehensive review of the Court’s document and information security protocols to mitigate the risk of future incidents.”
Fox News’ Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report.