Report: Supreme Court Leak Investigation Intensifies as Cell Phone Data Is Requested

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

The Supreme Court’s investigation into who leaked the draft opinion that indicated the overturning of Roe v. Wade to Politico continues as law clerks are reportedly being asked to sign affidavits and hand over their cell phone records, according to a CNN report.


CNN’s report added that the move is extremely unusual, and clerks are even considering getting legal support of their own in case things go south. Chief Justice John Roberts also reportedly met with the law clerks after the leak, which occurred on May 2.

The specific details of the affidavits and the data requests are unclear. There are 36 clerks, so it is not exactly a large pool of people they are looking at.

While the move to investigate this deeply is rare, the circumstances arguably warrant such a strident response from Supreme Court officials. The move to reveal the opinion to the public was dangerous and reckless, regardless if it was a conservative or liberal clerk.

It unleashed a firestorm of political division preemptively, particularly from those who would like Roe v. Wade to stay in place. The leak gave the court a chance to get a taste of public opinion in the event that they would overturn Roe as part of the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling, whether that was the leaker’s intention or not.

“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way,” Roberts said in a statement on May 3. He continued:

“We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce – permanent employees and law clerks alike – intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court. This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.”


Even though Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority draft opinion, it’s unknown at this time if scrapping the precedent in Roe will actually happen. Regardless, the decision will need to be released before the session ends in June, but it would not be surprising if the court waits until the last possible moment.

The person responsible for the leak will hopefully be fired and face the full consequences. At a time of high institutional distrust, the move only casts doubt on a key cornerstone of the American experiment. Americans should be able to have some trust in their government, but the social contract will never meet its full potential if bureaucrats have motives of their own.


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