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Supreme Court Leakers? Ida Nottnoe and Jurgis S. Esgood-Esmyne

When a draft of the Dobbs decision—a draft that proved to be a near-final—was leaked on May 3rd of last year, Chief Justice John Roberts was furious, and promised to get to the bottom of the situation and to punish the leaker. He eventually placed the matter in the hands of Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley. Yesterday, Gurley issued her report.

If you wish to read the report for yourself, it's only 23 pages, which is positively brief by Washington standards. That said, everything you need to know is contained in the second paragraph of the introduction to the document:

After months of diligent analysis of forensic evidence and interviews of almost 100 employees, the Marshal's team determined that no further investigation was warranted with respect to many of the "82 employees [who] had access to electronic or hard copies of the draft opinion." In following up on all available leads, however, the Marshal's team performed additional forensic analysis and conducted multiple follow-up interviews of certain employees. But the team has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.

As the final sentence here reveals, Curley has no idea who leaked the draft. Meanwhile, the repeated use of the word "employees" certainly seems to be designed to obfuscate, and to avoid admitting outright that the justices themselves were not put under the microscope.

Note that it's not perfectly clear that the justices were not investigated, though it would be very strange to refer to them as "employees." At very least, one would expect a clarification that "employees" also includes "the nine justices," but there is no such clarification in the document. And of course, if Gurley investigated everyone except the justices, and simply could not find the leaker, that leads to a pretty obvious conclusion as to where the leak came from. To be more specific, there were credible suggestions all the way back in May that either Samuel Alito or Clarence Thomas might have been responsible.

Gurley says that the investigation is not over and that she and her staff will continue to follow any leads that present themselves. But if they couldn't come up with anything in 7 months, what's going to change now? As it stands, it's yet another black eye for the Supreme Court, one that speaks to a lack of institutional control and, very probably, to a lack of accountability on the part of the nine folks who wear the black robes. (Z)

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