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Investigation into who leaked Supreme Court's draft abortion opinion comes up empty

Supreme Court New Cases
Posted at 2:49 PM, Jan 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 14:52:47-05

An investigation into who leaked a Supreme Court draft opinion in an abortion case that ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade has come up empty.

The Supreme Court issued a statement Thursday that said the Marshal of the Court cannot determine who leaked the document to Politico.

"No one confessed to publicly disclosing the document and none of the available forensic and other evidence provided a basis for identifying any individual as the source of the document," the report says.

The report says it doesn't appear the court's systems were hacked to obtain the document. However, investigators couldn't rule out the possibility with 100% certainty. They also said they couldn't rule out that the draft opinion was inadvertently left in public.

Thursday's announcement comes after investigators conducted over 100 interviews with 97 employees, all of whom denied disclosing the draft opinion.

Politico published the draft opinion about a month before the Supreme Court overturned Roe. At the time, Chief Justice John Roberts said the draft opinion did not represent a final decision by the court. However, the June ruling was nearly identical to the draft.

It's common for the justices to write draft opinions ahead of a final decision. This is done so the justices can share their initial thoughts and potentially
be persuaded into ruling differently.

The Court called the leak "one of the worst breaches of trust in its history."

The Marshal said it is still reviewing electronic data and other inquiries potentially related to the link. In the meantime, it says the Court should implement better policies to protect sensitive documents.