Abortion rights protesters protest outside the United States Supreme Court as the court decides Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization regarding abortion, overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade on Abortion in Washington, USA, June 24, 2022.
Jim Bourg | Reuters
An investigation into the leak of the Supreme Court’s bombshell ruling that struck down the federal constitutional right to abortion — weeks before it was officially released — failed to identify the culprit, the court said Thursday.
The failure to find the source of the leak was another embarrassing development for the Supreme Court, which on Thursday called the premature release of the opinion “one of the worst betrayals of trust in its history” and “a serious attack on the judicial process.” .”
Investigators interviewed nearly 100 Supreme Court employees as part of the investigation, 82 of whom had access to electronic or hard copies of conservative Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion.
Politics On May 2, she announced that she had obtained a leaked copy of that opinion, which suggests the Supreme Court is poised to overturn its five-decade-old decision in the case known as Roe v. Wade, which found that there is a constitutional right to abortion. This proposal was first circulated among judges and court officials on February 10.
In June, as the leak suggested, High Court in the majority opinion written by Alito, he said there is no federal right to abortion. The opinion came in a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged Mississippi’s restrictive abortion law.
After the leak, Chief Justice John Roberts ordered Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley to investigate who released the draft opinion to Politico.
“Following all available leads … the marshal’s team conducted additional forensic analysis and conducted several follow-up interviews with certain employees,” the Supreme Court said Thursday in a statement that accompanied the release of Curley’s probe report.
“However, the team has so far failed to identify the person responsible based on the preponderance of evidence,” the court said.
Curley’s report suggests that the leak was almost certainly a member of court staff, noting that “the investigation found it highly unlikely that the court’s information technology (IT) systems were improperly accessed by a person outside the court.”
Associate Justice Samuel Alito poses during a group photo of the justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, April 23, 2021.
Erin Schaff | Pool | Reuters
In her 20-page report, Curley said investigators examined the court’s computer equipment, networks, printers and “available call and text message logs.”
“However, investigators found no forensic evidence to indicate who published the draft opinion,” Curley wrote.
It also noted that its team of lawyers and federal investigators “conducted 126 formal interviews with 97 employees, all of whom denied the opinion was released.”
“Despite these efforts, investigators have not been able to determine by a preponderance of the evidence standard at this time the identity of the person(s) who released the draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org. or how the draft opinion was provided to Politico,” Curley wrote.
The report states that after initial interviews with court staff, each staff member was asked to sign an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that he did not share Dobbs’ draft opinion with anyone not employed by the Supreme Court. Several staffers admitted to telling their spouses about the motion or the number of judges’ votes in the case, the report said.
The report also states that, among other steps taken as part of the investigation, “the investigative team received outside assistance with the fingerprint analysis of items important to the investigation.”
“This analysis found viable fingerprints, but no matching fingerprints of interest,” the report said, without disclosing the nature of the subject being examined.
The Supreme Court said in a statement that after the investigation was completed, the court invited Michael Chertoff, a former federal judge and prosecutor and former Homeland Security secretary, to review Curley’s investigation.
Chertoff “advised that the marshal ‘conducted a thorough investigation’ and ‘[a]At this time, I cannot identify any other useful investigative measures that have not already been taken or are in progress,” the court said.
The statement said investigators will continue to review some of the electronic data that was collected for the investigation, “and several other investigations are still pending.”
In her report, Curley said, “If the additional investigation yields new evidence or leads, investigators will pursue them.”
Curley also wrote that the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting expansion of court staff’s ability to work from home, “as well as loopholes in the court’s security policies, created an environment where it was all too easy to remove sensitive information from and around the building.” IT networks of the court.”
This, in turn, increased “the risk of both intentional and accidental disclosure of sensitive information to the court,” the report said.
Curley wrote that “too many” court staff members have access to sensitive documents and that there is “no universal written policy or guidance” to protect draft opinions.
She also wrote that the Court’s current method of destroying sensitive documents has weaknesses that should be addressed and that “the Court’s information security policies are outdated and need to be clarified and updated.”
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