Supreme Court: Judges questioned as part of leak investigation


WASHINGTON (AP) – After eight months, 126 formal interviews and a 23-page report, the Supreme Court says it has been unable to determine who published the draft opinion denying abortion rights.

The report, released by the court Thursday, is the apparent culmination of an investigation ordered by Chief Justice John Roberts a day after the project was leaked to Politico in May. It should be noted that the report did not indicate that the judges themselves were asked questions. Answering a barrage of questions from the media and legal community on Friday, the head of the inquiry said in a statement that all nine judges in the court had been interviewed in connection with the inquiry and that there was nothing wrong with them.

The leak sparked outrage at the judges’ homes and raised concerns about their safety. That was more than a month before Justice Samuel Alito’s final opinion was released and the court officially declared Roe v. Wade overturned.

The report also provides a window into the internal processes of the Court. He acknowledges that the coronavirus pandemic, which has made it possible for people to work from home, “combined with deficiencies in court security policies, has created an environment where it is all too easy to remove sensitive information from courthouse and computer networks.” “The report recommends changes to make future leaks more difficult.

Some questions and answers about the report:


Safety and loose lips. Too many people have access to some sensitive information, the report concluded, and the court’s information security policy is outdated. A court cannot, for example, actively monitor who processes and accesses highly classified information.

In addition, some people interviewed by federal investigators who were subpoenaed to assist in the investigation have admitted that they did not strictly follow the court’s confidentiality policy. In some cases, employees admitted to “notifying their spouse of a proposed message or vote count,” the report said.

The information leak does not appear to be the result of a breach, but the report says investigators cannot rule out that the message was accidentally leaked “for example, by leaving it in a public space inside the building or outside the building.”


Investigators conducted 126 formal interviews with 97 employees. They investigated the relationship between staff and journalists, including those at Politico. They examined call logs from home phones. They looked at printer magazines. They even conducted a fingerprint analysis on the “item involved in the investigation.”

Each person interviewed signed an affidavit swearing they were not the source of the leak. Lying about it could violate federal false information laws.

After all of this, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, himself a former federal judge, was asked to evaluate the investigation. Chertoff described the investigation as “thorough” in a statement released by the court.

The court did not respond to reporters’ questions on Thursday about the questioning of the judges. On Friday, the day after the report was released, Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley, who led the investigation, said in a statement that she had spoken with every judge who cooperated with the investigation. . “I have followed all the fiduciary instructions, none of which apply to the judges or their spouses,” he wrote. He said he, like others, did not believe it was necessary for judges to sign sworn affidavits.


It seems clear that the court will tighten its procedures, possibly improve equipment and train more staff in response to the leak. But the court does not say what he has already done or will do. Investigators made a list of recommendations, but they were not included in the general version of the report to protect against “potential bad actors.”


After the leak, there was speculation in Washington about the identity of the source. The Tories are pointing the finger at the liberal side of the court, suggesting the supporter was someone upset by the result. Liberals speculated that it might be someone on the conservative side of the court who wanted to make sure an unreliable member of the five-judge majority didn’t switch sides.

There has been speculation on social media that various legal scholars may be leaked because of their personal backgrounds, including ties to Politico and past writings. The report acknowledged that investigators were watching.

“Investigators also assessed the wide range of public speculation, primarily on social media, about whoever leaked the document. Several clerks have been appointed to various posts. “In the course of the investigation, the investigators found nothing to support the allegations related to the disclosure of information on the social network,” the report said.

The report says investigators are not done yet, but it suggests any active investigation is nearing completion. “Investigators continue to review and process some of the electronic data collected, and several other investigations are still pending,” they said. “To the extent that further investigation provides new evidence or opportunities, investigators will pursue them.”

The final paragraph of the report states: “Continued investigation and analysis over time may yield additional opportunities that may identify the source of the disclosure.

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