There has been a big development in the U.S. Supreme Court’s investigation into who may have leaked the draft majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this month.
On Wednesday, CNN reported that clerks to the high court’s justices were asked to produce their cellphone records as the probe widens.
In addition, they were asked to sign affidavits — sworn statements under penalty of perjury — presumably to say they were not guilty of leaking the document to Politico.
“Some clerks are apparently so alarmed over the moves, particularly the sudden requests for private cell data, that they have begun exploring whether to hire outside counsel. The court’s moves are unprecedented and the most striking development to date in the investigation into who might have provided Politico with the draft opinion it published on May 2,” CNN reported.
“The probe has intensified the already high tensions at the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority is poised to roll back a half-century of abortion rights and privacy protections. Chief Justice John Roberts met with law clerks as a group after the breach, CNN has learned, but it is not known whether any systematic individual interviews have occurred,” the report added.
The majority draft opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, and it was a full-throated rebuke of Roe.
CNN anchor John Berman spoke about the breaking report on Tuesday morning.
“And this morning, we have a CNN exclusive. We have learned the Supreme Court is taking new unprecedented steps, the search for the person who leaked the draft Supreme Court abortion opinion that seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade. According to three sources, Supreme Court officials are telling law clerks, Supreme Court clerks, to provide cellphone records while also requiring them to sign affidavits. Nothing like this has happened before. We are told that some clerks are so alarmed, they are exploring seeking counsel,” Berman said.
CNN’s Joan Biskupic provided an update on the Supreme Court’s investigation to identify the leaker:
First of all, remember, this is the most important case of this term, the most important case in many years: the potential to roll back a half-century of abortion rights, and privacy rights. Midway through the negotiations over this case, a draft document was leaked, as we all know, it was leaked from last February. So not only did the public see where the court was headed, to roll back Roe v. Wade, but also it so seriously disrupted negotiations among the justices in terms of where they were actually going to head by the end of June. Chief Justice John Roberts launched an unprecedented investigation four weeks ago, four weeks ago today. Apparently, that has made absolutely insufficient progress, I would say, and they have taken this new step to have clerks sign affidavits.
I’m not sure exactly of the wording, but there would be a denial of any responsibility — and also starting to lay the groundwork for obtaining cell phone data. Now, I should tell you that this private draft went to not only the nine justices, their law clerks — each has four apiece — and then probably about a dozen other people in the Supreme Court building, it goes both electronically and hand-delivered to the chambers. You know, a lot more people could have had this inside the courthouse, but then also if anybody brought it home, the potential for other people obtaining it is great. So they’re focusing on law clerks right now, but we don’t know — at least from the outside — whether it would definitely be a law clerk, it would be somebody else, a full-time employee, anybody else who came upon this, unlikely a justice.
The Supreme Court is expected to soon deliver the official ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the highly anticipated abortion case that could overrule Roe, which was decided in 1973 and legalized the procedure in all 50 states.