The investigative report released by the Supreme Court on Thursday stated that 126 formal interviews were conducted of 97 employees in order to determine who was responsible for leaking Samuel Alito’s draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade. But at the end of the internal investigation, the court stated that it had failed to find the leaker.
The report notes that every one of the court personnel interviewed who had or may have had access to the draft opinion—including temporary law clerks and permanent employees—were required to sign a sworn statement that they were not the source of the leak. But the report did not say whether the nine Justices themselves or their spouses had been interviewed, including Alito and Clarence and Ginni Thomas.
That omission is the focus of many who doubt the court’s findings. This led Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley to release a separate statement on Friday. “I spoke with each of the Justices, several on multiple occasions,” she wrote, adding, “I followed up on all credible leads, none of which implicated the Justices or their spouses.” As a result, she decided it was not necessary to ask the justices to sign sworn affidavits as the others did. Not exactly a confidence booster.
Last May, Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak, published by Politico, “absolutely appalling.” In September, he complained about the court’s critics, saying that “simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.” Never mind that at least three recently installed members of the court—Justices Barrett, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch—lied about their acceptance of precedents like Roe v. Wade in their quest to gain lifetime appointments.
In fact, trust in the Supreme Court is at a record low, with the latest Gallup poll in late September finding that only 47 percent of Americans have "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of trust in the judicial branch. This is a 20 percentage-point-drop from two years ago—and it precedes the newly released results of the court’s leak investigation.
What about you? Do you trust the Supreme Court? Or has the combination of its rightward march, recent decisions and defensive posture shifted your thinking about its legitimacy? As always, I look forward to reading your thoughts and the opportunity for this community to learn from each other. Please do be respectful.
*Photo: The Justices posed for this official portrai on October 7, 2022. Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images.