Abortion rights protesters protest outside the United States Supreme Court building as the court ruled on abortion in Dobbs v. Women’s Health, overturning the landmark abortion decision in Roe v. Wade, in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2022 Mr.
Jim Burg | Reuters
The inconclusive conclusion of the investigation was another embarrassment for the Supreme Court, which called the leak “one of the worst breaches of trust in its history” and “a serious attack on the judicial process.”
During the investigation, investigators interviewed nearly 100 court employees, 82 of whom had access to electronic or paper copies of the draft majority opinion by conservative Justice Samuel Alito.
But neither Alito nor the court’s other eight justices have been implicated in the investigation, according to the official report.
Politics reported on May 2 that it had received a leaked copy of an opinion that suggests the Supreme Court is poised to reverse its fifty-year-old ruling in the case known as Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion. This draft was first circulated among judges and their secretaries on February 10.
After the leak, Chief Justice John Roberts ordered Gail Curley, a Supreme Court marshal, to investigate the disclosure.
In June of Supreme Court the majority opinion, drafted by Alito, said there was no federal right to abortion — as the leak showed.
That opinion came in a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged Mississippi’s restrictive abortion law.
The Supreme Court, releasing Curley’s investigative report on Thursday, said: “Investigating all available leads … the marshal’s team conducted additional forensic analysis and conducted several follow-up interviews with some of the staff.”
“But the team has so far been unable to identify the person responsible by preponderance of the evidence,” the court said.
Curley’s 20-page report concluded that the leak was almost certainly a court employee.
She noted that “the investigation found it highly unlikely that the Court’s information technology (IT) systems were improperly accessed by someone outside the court.”
Associate Justice Samuel Alito poses during a group photo of Supreme Court justices in Washington, April 23, 2021.
Erin Schaff | Pool | Reuters
Curley said investigators examined the court’s computer devices, networks, printers “as well as available call and text logs.”
But “investigators found no forensic evidence of who disclosed the draft report,” Curley wrote.
She noted that her team of attorneys and federal investigators “conducted 126 formal interviews with 97 employees, all of whom declined to comment.”
The report said that after initial interviews with court staff, each staffer was asked, under penalty of perjury, to sign a statement that they did not disclose Dobbs’ draft opinion to anyone outside the Supreme Court.
Several employees admitted that they told their husbands about the draft or counting of judges’ votes in the case, the report said.
Curley also wrote that among other steps taken in the investigation, “the investigative team has obtained outside assistance with fingerprint analysis of an item relevant to the investigation.”
“This analysis revealed viable fingerprints but did not match any fingerprints of interest,” the report said, without disclosing the nature of the subject being examined.
Curley said several requests are pending her investigation.
“To the extent that further investigation yields new evidence or leads, investigators will pursue them,” she added.
In a statement, the Supreme Court said that after the conclusion of the Curley investigation, the court asked former federal judge, prosecutor and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chartoff to evaluate the investigation.
Chartoff “recommended that the marshal “conduct a thorough investigation” and “[a]At this time, I cannot name any additional useful investigative activities that have not yet been or are being conducted,” the court said.
In her report, Curley wrote that the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting increase in the ability of court employees to work from home, “as well as gaps in the Court’s security policies, created an environment in which it was all too easy to remove sensitive information from the Court’s construction and IT network.”
This, in turn, increased “the risk of both intentional and accidental disclosure of sensitive court information,” the report said.
Curley wrote that “too many” court employees have access to confidential documents and that there is “no universal written policy or guidance” on preserving draft opinions.
She also urged the court to address weaknesses in the court’s current method of destroying confidential documents. And she wrote that “the court’s information security policy is outdated and requires clarification and updating.”
This article is first published on Source link