(John Ransom, Headline USA) Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into what he called an “egregious breach of trust” following the unprecedented leak, published by Politico, of a Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn the controversial Roe v. Wade.
In a statement published late Tuesday, Roberts also confirmed the authenticity of the leak, the Associated Press reported.
“Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case,” noted Roberts, who was said to have sided with the court’s liberal bloc in what would be a 5–4 decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Roberts continued. “I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”
Prior to the release of Roberts’ statement, some speculated that he might call on the FBI to investigate.
This is an unprecedented leak from #SCOTUS. It raises questions about how the institution will ever recover, and how Chief Justice Roberts will respond.
Sources tonight tell @JanCBS he is likely to order a full-blown investigation, involving the FBI, to determine the source.
— Elizabeth Campbell (@ECampbell360) May 3, 2022
“This is an unprecedented leak from #SCOTUS. It raises questions about how the institution will ever recover, and how Chief Justice Roberts will respond,” said CBS News field producer Elizabeth Campbell via Twitter.
It also shows the degree to which the Democrats have allowed the court to be turned into a partisan circus say some critics, with the Democrats speaking to theatrics rather than legalities.
“The staff of the Supreme Court is very small, and the circle of knowledge of pending opinions is even smaller,” former clerk Stephen L. Carter wrote, according to Slate.
“In particular, a law clerk who talked to a reporter might find a once high-flying legal career ruined. And of course fewer people in the know means fewer potential leakers,” Carter added.
During an interview with Fox News on Monday night, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who clerked for the court, agreed that members of the court’s inner circle already likely knew who the culprit was.
In a tweet of his own, Lee called the leak “dangerous, despicable, and damaging.”
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) May 3, 2022
The draft opinion, argued attorney Susie Moore at RedState, was just that: a draft opinion, which may or may not be how the court ultimately decides the case.
“No. The Supreme Court has not voted to overturn abortion rights. A draft opinion is a draft opinion. It could be tweaked and altered in innumerable ways before it’s ultimately issued,” Moore said.
But legal opinion seems remarkably consistent on one thing: Somebody has to be held accountable for the leak and the consequent damage that is done to the standing of the court.
“Roberts has an absolute obligation to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation,” Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law wrote in a blog post on Monday night, according to Business Insider, a usually reliable progressive publication.
“And at the end of that investigation, Roberts must publicly identify the persons who are responsible for this leak—that includes Justices and clerks,” he added. “Heads must roll.”
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.