The U.S. Supreme Court claimed Thursday it cannot identify the person who leaked the Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org., the landmark case that eventually overturned the U.S. constitutional right to an abortion and referred the matter ultimately to the states’ jurisdictions.
The draft opinion was leaked to Politico in early May 2022 and the final draft was decided and released a month later at the end of June.
In a 23-page report, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that the court’s marshal “has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence,” the court said.
“After examining the Court’s computer devices, networks, printers, and available call and text logs, investigators have found no forensic evidence indicating who disclosed the draft opinion,” the marshal’s office wrote.
The leak was made right before the kick-off of the 2022 mid-term primaries at the beginning of May, although Texas had already held its primaries prior to that.
What followed were massive protests that night in the nation’s capitol almost as if they were planned in advance, and further protests outside of justices’ homes. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was targeted in an assassination attempt before the final decision was released on June 24, 2022.
The leaked draft opinion was turned into a political mid-term issue even before the final decision was released. There were 35 mid-term primaries held in May and June 2022.
In all, the investigators interviewed 97 employees, All denied sending the draft opinion.
All signed an affidavit under the penalty of perjury denying they had anything to do with the leak. That sets them up for possible prosecution if the investigators later discovered they lied under oath.
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“Investigators continue to review and process some electronic data that has been collected and a few other inquiries remain pending. To the extent that additional investigation yields new evidence or leads, the investigators will pursue them,” the marshal wrote.
The investigation found that the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home increased the risk of disclosures.
“While investigators and the Court’s IT experts cannot absolutely rule out a hack, the evidence to date reveals no suggestion of improper outside access. Investigators also cannot eliminate the possibility that the draft opinion was inadvertently or negligently disclosed – for example, by being left in a public space either inside or outside the building,” the report stated.
The Court consulted Michael Chertoff, who is the former Secretary of Homeland Security, Judge of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the U. S. Department of Justice, and U. S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey to assess the Marshal’s investigation.
In an attached statement to the report, Judge Chertoff concluded that the marshals “undertook a thorough investigation” and, “[a]t this time, I cannot identify any additional useful investigative measures” not already undertaken or underway.
At the time of the leak, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito called the leak “grave betrayal of trust by somebody, which endangered the justices’ lives.” Justice Elena Kagan called it “terrible” and “horrible.” Justice Clarence Thomas called the leak “tremendously bad” and “an infidelity.” Chief Justice John Roberts called it “absolutely appalling” a “betrayal” by “one bad apple.”
The U.S. Supreme Court Marshal report can be read in full here. https://www.supremecourt.gov/publicinfo/press/Dobbs_Public_Report_January_19_2023.pdf