Supreme Court reveals it still has not identified the source of the bombshell leak

Supreme Court reveals it STILL has not identified the source of the bombshell leak last May of opinion that overturned Roe vs. Wade as investigation continues

  • Supreme Court said it can’t ID person who leaked draft Dobbs opinion
  • Politico published draft opinion in May – a move that rocked the court
  • Report on investigation ruled out a cyber hack
  • Probe into matter is continuing 

The Supreme Court announced on Thursday that it cannot identify the person who leaked a draft of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade.

The high court released a 23-page report on its investigation into the leak, which rocked the political world when Politico published the draft opinion in May. The court has been seeking to identify the person behind it and is continuing its probe into the matter.

Investigators, however, also found fault with court itself, saying its security policies were out of date and much of the system was built on trust, which made it ‘too easy to remove sensitive information from the building.’ 

‘It is not possible to determine the identity of any individual who may have disclosed the document or how the draft opinion ended up with Politico,’ the report states. ‘No one confessed to publicly disclosing the document and none of the available forensic and other evidence provided a basis for identifying any individual as the source of the document.’

The Supreme Court announced that it cannot identify the person who leaked a draft of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization

The Supreme Court announced that it cannot identify the person who leaked a draft of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

The leak of the draft opinion sparked outrage and protests

The leak of the draft opinion sparked outrage and protests

Timeline on leak as published in Supreme Court report

February 10: The draft Dobbs opinion was sent via email to a distribution list of 70 people consisting of law clerks and permanent personnel who work on opinions. 

March 22: Eight more permanent personnel received the draft opinion via email. Later, investigators found that two additional permanent personnel accessed the draft opinion electronically by separate means.

May 22: Politico publishes draft opinion

May 23: Chief Justice Roberts confirms its authenticity when he orders an investigation into the leak 

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A cyber security breach was also ruled out. 

‘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.’ the report 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 report stated. 

They also could not rule out an accidental breach.

‘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 noted.

Politico’s publication eight months ago of the draft opinion by Samuel Alito was the first time an opinion became public before the court was ready to announce it.

Chief Justice John Roberts ordered the investigation the next day into what he called an ‘egregious breach of trust.’

“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” he said at the time. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”

The investigation was conducted by the court’s marshall. It found 80 people had access to the draft opinion. And 34 people said they printed it out – sometimes more than once.

The court’s team ‘conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees, all of whom denied disclosing the opinion,’ the report said.

Several court employees did admit they had told their spouses or partners about the draft opinion, which is a violation of the court’s confidentiality rules. 

It wasn’t determined that any of those discussions led to a copy of the draft opinion becoming public. 

Investigators are still conducting their search.

Investigators are continuing to ‘review and process some electronic data that has been collected and a few other inquiries remain pending,’ the report noted.

‘To the extent that additional investigation yields new evidence or leads, the investigators will pursue them.’ 

Investigators blasted the leaker as someone who ‘brazenly violated a system that was built fundamentally on trust.’

But they also conceded there were ‘limited safeguards to regulate and constrain access to very sensitive information.’

They blamed the COVID pandemic – and its remote working requirements – as well as ‘gaps in the Court’s security policies’ for creating ‘an environment where it was too easy to remove sensitive information from the building and the Court’s IT networks, increasing the risk of both deliberate and accidental disclosures of Court sensitive information.’

The U.S. Supreme Court justices: Seated (L-R): Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Elena Kagan. Standing (L-R): Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson

The U.S. Supreme Court justices: Seated (L-R): Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Elena Kagan. Standing (L-R): Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson

The final opinion released in the Dobbs case was strikingly similar to the draft opinion that Politico published. The publication resulted in fury from Democrats over the expected setback in abortion rights and suspicions from Republicans the leak was done to ensure the draft opinion stood.

The five conservative judges on the court overturned Roe – the landmark case that legalized abortion – with the ruling, which was authored by Justice Samuel Alito.

Roberts sided with the court’s three liberals on the matter. 

But the leak shook the court to its foundations. The secretive body took pride in its lack of leaks. And it frayed relationships among the justices.

Alito called the leak a ‘grave betrayal of trust by somebody, and it was a shock’ that led to a ‘changed’ atmosphere at the court. Justice Clarence Thomas compared it to infidelity.

The decision also led to protests outside the court and threats to several of the justices. Alito and Justice Brett Kavanaugh had protesters outside of the D.C. area homes.

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