- Supreme Court officials have narrowed their abortion leak investigation to a small group of people, according to a WSJ report.
- At least one law clerk is among the suspects, per the WSJ.
- Chief Justice John Roberts announced an investigation into the leak last May.
At least one law clerk is among a small group of suspects in the Supreme Court’s investigation of the leaked draft abortion-rights ruling, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Friday.
Officials have narrowed their investigation but have not yet identified the person who leaked the draft ruling, sources familiar with the matter told the WSJ. A spokesperson for the Supreme Court did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.
Chief Justice John Roberts announced a probe into the leak a day after Politico published the draft ruling on May 2 for the consequential case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Roberts instructed the Supreme Court’s marshal to look into the source of the leak, although little has been made public on the investigation in the months since. Rumors swirled at the time in legal and political circles that a law clerk might have been behind the leak.
Early reports found that law clerks to the justices sought legal counsel as they came under scrutiny and were asked to turn over their cell phone data. Each justice has four clerks.
Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch in September said he’s expecting a report on the investigation “soon,” though did not say whether it would be made public.
The draft opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, ruled to overturn the 1973 landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide. The June 24 decision eventually handed down by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority was largely unchanged from the draft, overruling nearly 50 years of constitutionally protected abortion rights.
The unprecedented leak shattered Supreme Court norms, prompting outcry from several of the justices on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, the longest-serving member who’s often considered the most conservative, repeatedly denounced the leak at the time, saying it destroyed trust within the institution.
More recently, The New York Times reported in November on another alleged leak of a 2014 Supreme Court decision, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, a case concerning religious rights and reproductive health. Former anti-abortion leader Rob Schenck told The Times that he had gained advanced knowledge of the Supreme Court’s decision weeks before it was released.