One open question: It was unclear from the report whether the court’s nine judges were questioned.

WASHINGTON – Eight months, 126 formal interviews and 23 page report later on Supreme Court stated that it was not possible to find out who published the draft opinion of the court on the abolition of abortion rights.

The report released by the court on Thursday is the apparent culmination of the investigation Chief Justice John Roberts ordered in a day a May leak of the draft to Politico. At the time, Roberts called the leak a “flagrant breach of trust.”

The leak sparked protests at the judges’ homes and raised concerns about their safety. And it came more than a month before Justice Samuel Alito’s final opinion was released and the court formally announced the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The report also offers a window into the court’s internal processes. He acknowledges that the coronavirus pandemic, which has increased the ability for people to work from home, “as well as gaps in the Court’s security policies have created an environment in which it was all too easy to remove sensitive information from the Court’s building and IT networks. » The report recommends changes that make it more difficult to leak in the future.

Some questions and answers about the report:


Weak security and loose lips. Too many people have access to certain sensitive information, the report concluded, and the court’s information security policies are out of date. A court cannot actively monitor, for example, who handles and has access to highly sensitive information.

In addition, some people interviewed by federal investigators who were called in to help with the investigation admitted they did not strictly follow the court’s confidentiality policy. In some cases, staff admitted to “telling their spouses about the draft report or vote count,” the report said.

The leak did not appear to be the result of a break-in, but the report said investigators could not rule out that the opinion was inadvertently disclosed, “for example, when it was left in a public place inside or outside the building.”


Investigators conducted 126 formal interviews with 97 employees. They examined connections between staffers and reporters, including at Politico. They looked through the call logs of personal phones. They were looking at the printer’s magazines. They even did a fingerprint analysis of an “object relevant to the investigation.”

Each person interviewed signed an affidavit stating that they were not the source of the leak. Lying about it could violate the federal False Claims Act.

In the wake of all this, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who was once a federal judge, was asked to weigh in on the investigation. Chartoff described the investigation as “thorough” in a statement released through the court.

One open question: It was unclear from the report whether the court’s nine judges were questioned.


It seems clear that the court will tighten its procedures, possibly upgrade its equipment and likely provide more staff training in response to the leak. But what she has already done or will do in the future, the court does not say. Investigators compiled a list of recommendations, but they were not attached to the public version of the report to guard against “potentially bad actors.”

How about some guesses as to WHO IT WAS?

After the leak, speculation swirled in Washington about who the source might be. Conservatives pointed the finger at the liberal side of the court, suggesting the leak was the result of someone upset. Liberals suggested it could be someone on the conservative side of the court who wants to make sure a swing member of the five-judge majority doesn’t switch sides.

There has been speculation on social media that various law department clerks may have been the leakers because of their personal backgrounds, including ties to Politico and past articles. The report confirms that investigators observed.

“Investigators also assessed the wide range of public speculation, mostly on social media, about anyone who might have leaked the document. Several judicial officers were appointed to various posts. In their investigations, investigators found nothing to corroborate the allegations on social media regarding the disclosure,” the report said.


The report says investigators aren’t done yet, but suggests any active investigation is winding down. “Investigators are continuing to review and process some of the electronic data that was collected, and several other requests remain pending,” they said. “To the extent that further investigation yields new evidence or leads, investigators will pursue them.”

The final paragraph of the report stated, “In time, further investigation and analysis may provide additional clues that could identify the source of the disclosure.”

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