The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced Thursday that after a months-long investigation, no one has yet to be identified as leaking the May draft of the opinion that would overrule Roe v. Wade. The announcement is the first public statement since the announcement the day after the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito was published.
“The team has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence,” said the court’s statement, which was unsigned.
In addition to the nine SCOTUS justices, the report said 82 employees of the court had access to the draft opinion by Justice Alito in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was reflected in the final court opinion, issued in June, which eliminated the right to abortion.
However, a few employees admitted to violating SCOTUS confidentiality rules by telling “their spouse or partner about the draft Dobbs opinion and the vote count.” The report did not specify if the justices were interviewed as part of the investigation.
The high court included a statement from former Secretary of Homeland Security and federal circuit judge Michael Chertoff, who was asked to review the investigation independently. Chertoff said “a thorough investigation within their legal authorities” was conducted, and recommendations were made to prevent future leaks, including restricting access to confidential documents by using software similar to ones used by publishers to limit access to advance copies of unpublished book manuscripts.
Some find report insufficient
“It’s deeply troubling that the Dobbs leaker still has not been found,” tweeted Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who has previously argued cases before the court. “The Supreme Court depends on trust to deliberate, and this leak is incredibly damaging to the Court’s ability to function normally.”
“The court needs to immediately explain if this investigation included interviews of the justices or not,” said the executive director of Demand Justice, a left-leaning advocacy group, Brian Fallon.
“The idea that the justices themselves may have been excluded from the inquiry undermines the credibility of the whole undertaking,” Fallon continued.
While the May leak may not have been unlawful, it was an unprecedented breach of protocol at the court, which tightly controls all access to deliberations.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, investigators had narrowed their investigation to a limited number of suspects, including court clerks, but had not yet identified a culprit conclusively.
The report stated that although investigators had zeroed in on specific individuals for further scrutiny, it didn’t identify them because the evidence was considered insufficient “to conclude that any particular individual was responsible for the disclosure.”
The Thursday report made it clear that, for the most part, the investigation had mainly come to an end. It said no evidence indicated an outside party breached the computer system of the court to access the draft. Investigators “conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees, all of whom denied disclosing the opinion,” said the report.
Investigators focused on the court’s permanent employees and law clerks, primarily recent law school graduates, who serve as assistants to a justice for a year.