The United States Supreme Court has failed to identify the source of the leak of its historic decision on abortion, despite an eight-month-long investigation. On May 2, 2022, Politico newspaper reported that the high court was preparing to rule against the right to abortion and published the draft of its decision.
This unprecedented leak caused a stir in Washington and resulted in large-scale demonstrations by abortion rights supporters. It also caused shockwaves in legal circles, as the Supreme Court is known to guard the secrecy of its deliberations jealously. Chief Justice John Roberts denounced the act as “treason” and ordered an internal inquiry to find the source of the leak.
The investigation team concluded that after “months of careful analysis of the evidence and the questioning of almost 100 employees”, “there was no need for further investigation concerning the majority of the 82 employees who had had access to the preliminary draft judgment”. However, some employees were questioned again, but the team was unable to identify the person responsible with sufficient evidence.
The Supreme Court also sought the opinion of former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, but he did not identify any “additional” elements of investigation likely to advance the investigations. The investigation report also noted that it is “unlikely that anyone outside the Court was able to gain access to its computer systems”.
The development of teleworking during the pandemic has “created an environment in which it is too easy to take sensitive information outside the building and the servers of the Court”, the report noted, recommending tighter procedures.
On June 24, as reported by Politico, the Supreme Court overturned its Roe v. Wade ruling, which since 1973 had guaranteed the right of women to terminate their pregnancy. Since then, about fifteen states have completely banned abortion on their soil.
It is clear that the US Supreme Court has failed to identify the source of the leak of its historic ruling on abortion, despite an extensive investigation. The implications of this leak have been far-reaching and the Court must ensure that its confidential information is better safeguarded in the future.