Investigators examining the leak of a draft opinion in the case that overturned Roe v. Wade have narrowed down their list of possible suspects to include at least one law clerk, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Despite the progress, the culprit who disclosed the draft written by Justice Samuel Alito has not yet been identified. It was not immediately clear how many people were still considered potentially responsible for the extraordinary breach of high court protocol.
The leaked draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was published by Politico on May 2 of last year — almost eight full weeks before the final decision came down June 24. Its release prompted protests by abortion rights activists around the country and Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation led by the court’s marshal, Gail Curley.
The Supreme Court’s in-house police force, which is largely tasked with physical security of the justices and the court building and has limited investigative experience, has been helped by investigators from other agencies.
According to the Journal, the field of potential suspects had been “significantly narrowed” by early summer of last year, but it’s unclear how much progress has been made since.
One source told the Journal that some of the interviews were surface-level, with investigators asking questions like “Did you do it?” and “Do you know anyone who had a reason to do it?”
The outlet also reported that investigators had partially relied on publicly available information about court employees to develop theories of the case.
In September, Justice Neil Gorsuch told judges and attorneys of the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that investigators would have a report on the leak “soon,” though he did not say whether it would be made public.
Congressional Republicans have expressed frustration with the slow progress of the investigation and the lack of information, after many characterized the leak as an attempt to pressure the justices into keeping Roe in place. (Alito’s final opinion ultimately hewed closely to the leaked draft, which was dated from February of last year.)
“For some reason this individual has certainly been sheltered and there is absolutely evidence that there are specific people who know who this person is,” Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, (R-Wis.) told a House Judiciary Committee hearing in December.
With Republicans in charge of the committee, the panel is likely to open its own investigation into the leak.