The integrity and public trust of the Supreme Court as an institution were rocked this week by the leak and publication Monday night of a draft copy of a major impending ruling on the hot-button issue of abortion.
Chief Justice John Roberts addressed the controversial breach Tuesday and announced that a full investigation of the leak would be launched and the probe would be led by the Marshal of the Supreme Court, Fox News reported.
Major ruling leaked
The reputation of the Supreme Court, until now one of the few remaining federal institutions that still garnered a measure of trust from the American people, was severely tarnished Monday night when Politico published and reported on what it claimed was a leaked draft copy of the court’s majority opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
That opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, was in favor of upholding a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but going further the ruling also essentially overruled the prior precedents legalizing abortion at the federal level — 1973’s Roe v. Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The very next morning after the Politico article containing the leaked document was published, SCOTUSblog reported that the Supreme Court issued a press release that confirmed the “authenticity” of the draft copy with a statement from Chief Justice Roberts that condemned the leak and announced an investigation into what had occurred.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way,” Roberts said in the statement.
“We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce — permanent employees and law clerks alike — intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court,” he continued. “This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.”
“I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak,” Roberts added.
The Marshal’s job
Fox News noted that the current Marshal of the Court is Colonel Gail Curley, a former U.S. Army officer and top official in the military’s Judge Advocate General Corps who only started the job at the Supreme Court less than a year ago on June 21, 2021.
Her appointment to that role had been announced in a May 3, 2021, press release that cited her educational background, military experience, and leadership capabilities, as well as outlined what, exactly, her new job as Marshal of the Court would entail.
“As Marshal, Col. Curley will serve as the Court’s chief security officer, facilities administrator, and contracting executive, managing approximately 260 employees, including the Supreme Court Police Force, which provides security for the Justices, Court staff, visitors, the building, and surrounding grounds,” the court’s release noted. “Col. Curley will call the Supreme Court to order in argument sessions, maintaining order and decorum during Court proceedings.”
Left unmentioned in that release was the role of the chief investigator of a virtually unprecedented breach of security and confidentiality — things like that simply don’t happen in the Supreme Court — but that is now clearly another important duty in the Marshal’s service and, hopefully, she will be able to quickly identify and hold accountable the individual(s) responsible for this gross effort at undermining the public’s faith in the nation’s highest court.