Supreme Court “unable to identify” person who leaked abortion decision overturning Roe


Washington — The Supreme Court said Thursday that the team tasked with investigating the unprecedented May leak of the draft opinion in its blockbuster abortion case has been “unable to identify a person responsible” for the unauthorized disclosure, but the probe is continuing.

A two-page statement of the court said the team led by Marshal of the Supreme Court Gail Curley performed forensic analysis and conducted follow-up interviews of certain court employees.

“But the team has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence,” the court said.

The eight-month investigation was prompted by the unprecedented May 2 publication in Politico of a draft majority opinion from Justice Samuel Alito, which was circulated in February and indicated the high court would overturn Roe v. Wade. 

In June, the court issued its formal opinion in the case — written by Alito — ending the constitutional right to an abortion.

Chief Justice John Roberts assigned Curley and her staff to investigate the leak and denounced the unauthorized disclosure, calling it a “betrayal of the confidences of the court.” The Supreme Court revealed Thursday that it also consulted Michael Chertoff, former secretary of Homeland Security, to assess the marshal’s probe.

In a report from the marshal accompanying the Supreme Court’s statement about the investigation, Curley said it is “unlikely” the leak stemmed from a hack of the court’s IT systems by a person outside the court. But after examining the Supreme Court’s computer devices, networks, printers and available call and text logs, investigators found “no forensic evidence indicating who disclosed the draft opinion.”

Curley’s investigative team consisted of attorneys and federal investigators with experience in criminal, administrative and cyber investigations, and they conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees, who all denied leaking the opinion, according to her report.

“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,” Curley said in her report. “If a Court employee disclosed the draft opinion, that person brazenly violated a system that was built fundamentally on trust with limited safeguards to regulate and constrain access to very sensitive information.”

She lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic, which eased the ability to work from home, and gaps in the Supreme Court’s security policies, created an environment that made it easy to remove “sensitive information” from the building and the court’s IT networks, raising the risk of “deliberate and accidental disclosures of court-sensitive information.”

Read the court’s full report here:

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