Politico produced shockwaves last month when it published a draft opinion showing that the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade.
An investigation was quickly started to uncover who was responsible for leaking the draft. According to CNN, that investigation has since escalated.
Clerks asked to turn over devices
The network reported that Supreme Court clerks are now being asked to sign affidavits and turn over their electronic devices, something which puts them in “a precarious position.”
Although CNN’s legal experts maintain that the leak itself may not have been a crime, signing a false affidavit would amount to a felony.
Further CNN noted that whether the clerks choose to comply with the request or refuse and seek legal counsel “may upend the trajectories of their careers.”
That assessment is shared by Catherine Fisk, who works as a professor of employment law at UC Berkeley School of Law. Fisk said that creating an inference of guilt “is certainly a fear that they would have.”
“The clerks are probably the most vulnerable workers who had access to that information in the building, because their career could be dramatically affected by how they chose to respond,” CNN quoted her as adding.
Liz Hempowicz agreed with Fisk’s assessment. Hempowicz, who serves as director of public policy at the group Project On Government Oversight, lamented that the clerks “are in a no-win position right now.”
“What lawyer would advise anyone to hand over personal information like this and cell phone records like this without the advice of an attorney?” she asked.
Harvard professor says clerks should be prepared for consequences
However, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe argued that the prestige and career benefits of serving as a clerk on the nation’s highest court carry a unique set of expectations.
“I think it would be entirely appropriate for any law clerk who lawyers up and tells the chief justice or the Marshal of the Court, ‘No, I won’t let you see my cell phone records. They’re too intimate and too private,’ will need to take the consequence,” Tribe told CNN.
“And I think those consequences should include losing their job and losing the CV value, the resume value that job would otherwise have going forward,” he continued.