Supreme Court investigators reportedly narrowed their investigation into the monumental leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion in favor of overturning Roe V. Wade last May, which tipped off the public to its stunning reversal of the landmark decision that had protected abortions for nearly 50 years.
The investigation, which is being overseen by an internal committee, has dwindled down their list of potential suspects to a “small number of suspects,” the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing unnamed people familiar with the probe.
That list includes recent law school graduates serving as law clerks to Supreme Court justices, the Post reported, without naming any of the suspects in the investigation—Supreme Court clerks had been asked in May to turn over private cell phone data and sign affidavits, sources told CNN.
Interviewers relied on public information about court employees to develop working theories about possible suspects in the investigation, sources told the Post, with investigators at times asking them simply: “did you do it?”
A Supreme Court spokesperson did not immediately respond to a Forbes inquiry for further details, and the court has not released any information on the case.
Although the draft opinion is not a classified document and does not automatically prompt a criminal investigation, the person behind the leak could face charges for stealing federal government property for personal use, University of California, Berkeley criminal law professor Orin Kerr told Reuters. The leaker could also face charges related to hacking an unauthorized government computer, depending on how the copy of the draft opinion was obtained, Reuters reported.
The leak of the draft opinion to Politico in May, which Chief Justice John Roberts called a “betrayal of the confidences of the court,” was the first instance of a draft Supreme Court document reaching a news organization, putting the nation’s highest court in a precarious situation of how to address the information, and leaving questions about whether the court’s conservative majority would follow through by overturning the landmark case. The court overturned it just over a month later, leaving the legality of abortion up to states. One day after Politico’s bombshell report, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the opinion was authentic, calling it a “singular and egregious breach of trust, and saying the court would investigate it. Roberts assigned Gail Curley, a former U.S. Army attorney and the Supreme Court’s marshal, to lead the investigation, and later brought in outside federal investigators to assist with it. In September, Justice Neil Gorsuch announced the court was planning to release a report on the investigation, adding that Roberts had also appointed an internal committee to oversee the probe.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts Confirms Roe V. Wade Leak, Says Court Will Investigate (Forbes)
Supreme Court Reportedly Plans To Overturn Roe V. Wade, According To Leaked Draft Opinion (Forbes)
After Hours Of Silence, White House Addresses Leaked Roe V. Wade Supreme Court Opinion Calling It ‘Radical’ (Forbes)
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