Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to provide an update about the investigation into the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion, it appears as though the probe is ongoing.
And in fact, according to Fox News, investigators have narrowed the list of suspects.
The early May leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion, which was supported by four of the high court’s five remaining conservatives, overturned Roe v. Wade and upheld a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The court eventually ruled, officially, 5-4 to overturn ‘Roe’ and 6-3 to uphold the ban.
The leak, which has never happened in modern history, triggered an investigation that, months later, appeared to have stalled, leading some critics to conclude that Chief Justice John Roberts, who ordered the court’s marshal to launch a probe, was no longer interested in learning the leaker’s identity.
“But multiple sources tell Fox News the investigation into the approximately 70 individuals in the court who may have had access to the draft opinion has been narrowed,” the outlet reported Friday.
“Sources say much of the initial focus was on the three dozen or so law clerks, who work directly with the justices on their caseload. Fox News had previously reported those law clerks were asked to turn over their cellphones and sign affidavits. It is unclear whether those clerks have all cooperated,” the outlet continued.
Fox News continued:
Supreme Court law clerks work on a one-year contract for individual justices, and their term typically ends in mid-July. Most of the law clerks have now presumably moved on to other jobs, and any future cooperation with them into the leak investigation was seen as problematic.
Fox News has been told court Marshal Gail Curley has also asked several permanent court staff who may have had access to the draft opinion to turn over their cellphones and electronic devices.
Still, the question of who actually leaked the draft to POLITICO is not publicly known at this time. Also, it isn’t clear what sort of discipline or punishment the leaker faces; whether federal agencies, private law or security firms have been hired to help conduct the probe; and what measures, if any, will be put in place to prevent leaks in the future, Fox News noted.
On Friday, when the network asked SCOTUS public information officer Patricia McCabe about the probe, she issued a formal “no comment.”
A day after the leak, Roberts announced the internal investigation, which was not given a deadline or any publicly-released mandate.
“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 in a rare public statement. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”
Last week, the high court refused to provide any update at all on the status of the investigation.
“Less than 24 hours after the unprecedented leak of the draft opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade, Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the egregious breach,” the AP reported.
“Since then? Silence. The Supreme Court won’t say whether it’s still investigating. The court also won’t say whether the leaker has been identified or whether anyone has been disciplined. Or whether an outside law firm or the FBI has been called in. Or whether the court will ever offer an accounting of what transpired. Or whether it has taken steps to try to prevent a repeat,” the AP added.
Roberts released a statement stating that the court has “acted upon all cases submitted to the Court for decision this Term,” and will be in recess until the first Monday in October.
“On behalf of all the Justices, I would like to thank the Supreme Court employees for their outstanding work and dedication to their important responsibilities this Term,” Roberts said. “I thank the members of the Court’s bar as well for their professionalism and cooperation.”
Justice Clarence Thomas lamented the leak and said it has forever changed the court.
“Look where we are, where now — that trust or that belief is gone forever,” he said shortly after the leak became public. “When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder. It’s like kind of an infidelity that you can explain… but you can’t undo it.”