WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced Thursday that an internal investigation failed to identify the person behind the Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established abortion rights.
In a 20-page report, Coroner Gail A. Curley, who oversaw the investigation, said investigators interviewed 97 workers 126 times, and all denied responsibility for the leak. But several employees admitted to telling their spouses or colleagues about the planning proposal and the number of votes in violation of court confidentiality rules, the report said.
The study did not confirm whether there was a discussion that led to the idea of a demonstration being made public. The investigators did not find forensic evidence to show who issued the opinion by searching “computer devices, networks, printers and call and text logs of the court.”
The leak, published by Politico in May, was a shocking breach of court confidentiality. In a recent statement, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. affirmed the validity of the presumption, in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, but said it did not represent the final version and announced an investigation.
The report said the marshal’s office would investigate new developments, and made several recommendations to improve security. But it gave a clear impression that there are enough holes in the system that the mystery of who came up with the idea cannot be solved.
“If a court official disclosed what he wanted, that person would have brazenly violated a system built on trust with limited security to control and prevent the public from gaining access to information,” the report said.
Understand the New Term of the US Supreme Court
It added: “The epidemic and the growing ability to work from home, as well as gaps in court security, created an environment where it was easy to remove information from the home and court IT networks, increasing the risk of intentional and accidental disclosure of court information.”
The investigators determined that in addition to the nine judges, 82 legislators and permanent employees of the court had access to computers or copies of draft opinions, the report said. But in discussing the evaluation of the “staff,” it did not say whether investigators had also questioned and reviewed the equipment of the judges themselves – or their wives.
At the end of the interviews, the report said, the employees signed affidavits “punished for falsehood” declaring that they did not disclose their thoughts or information about this to anyone who did not work with the court and said everything they knew to disclose.
Marshal wrote that investigators looked for signs of dissatisfaction or stress, including anger at the court’s decision. Instead of thinking that the conservative might have released the document to make it difficult for the five justices who seemed to be able to vote in the majority to change their opinion, he wrote that he “carefully evaluated whether the staff could have had a reason to disclose the decision of the court for good reasons.”
The report also said that investigators “scrutinized in particular contacts with anyone associated with Politico” and monitored public opinion, including on social media, about the suspects. “Several secretaries of law have been named in various positions,” the report said. “In their inquiries, the investigators found nothing to confirm any of the media reports.”
During the investigation, the investigators took all the laptops and mobile phones that the court was given to people who had access to the idea of the show, but “they did not find the necessary information on these devices.”
The report also said that the investigation did not find anything related to calls and text messages and records of payments made from mobile phones. Although the report stated that “all employees who were requested to do so voluntarily provided” such documents, it did not specify the extent of the requests.
More on the US Supreme Court
- Gun Law in New York: The Supreme Court has upheld the current state law banning the carrying of firearms outside the home. The act was enacted following a court ruling in June that struck down a gun control law.
- Donors Meet the Judges: A charity was formed to preserve the stadium’s history. It also became the gateway to the nine most powerful people in America.
- Chapter 42: The court said that pandemic-era policies that restrict immigration at the southern border remain in place today, slowing a major increase in illegal crossings.
- Year End Report: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued its annual report on state courts threatening the physical safety of judges. The report did not comment on the release of the Roe court opinion or call for stricter rules on judges.
It cited major technical limitations. For example, when investigators were able to look at documents printed on Internet printers, 46 printers in the home were found to be connected only to local computers and did not generate network documents. In their own memory, the printers only kept a log of the 60 documents they printed, the report said.
But despite those limitations, the report added that investigators do not believe foreign hackers are responsible for removing Dobbs’ opinion from the Supreme Court’s Internet.
The report said: “It is unlikely that the disclosure was made due to a malfunction in the court’s IT system. “The court’s IT department has found no indications of hacking but continues to monitor and evaluate the system to see if it indicates any tampering or intrusion into the court’s IT systems.”
The leak strained relations between the judges. Justice Clarence Thomas compared it to dishonesty. Opinion writer Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the revelations put the lives of many judges at risk.
When the court issued its decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June, the recruitment process has not changed much.
When Chief Justice Roberts put Ms. Curley in charge of the investigation, there were questions about whether she had the necessary skills and resources to handle the situation. He is a former Army Homeland Security attorney whose office of about 260 employees provides physical security for judges and courthouses.
Chief Justice Roberts also asked Michael Chertoff — a former federal judge, appellate court judge and Homeland Security secretary — to independently investigate Ms. Curly. The court produced a one-page affidavit from him saying that he could not find out what the investigators had to do.