Officials investigating the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court earlier this month are escalating their search tactics into unprecedented territory, requiring law clerks to provide cell phone records and sign affidavits, according to a report.
Following the leak of a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization on May 2 that signaled the majority of high court justices were prepared to return the question of abortion's legality over to the states, Chief Justice John Roberts reportedly met with law clerks as a group after the break, according to CNN Tuesday.
While it is not clear whether those who work under the justices were interviewed individually, the sources told the outlet some of the clerks are particularly alarmed by the course of action and have considered whether to hire outside counsel.
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Legal experts who became informed of the heightened investigative tactics made it clear that clerks may feel the need to seek independent counsel due to the intrusiveness of cell phone data searches and required affidavits.
The affidavit may be a greater concern for the leaker. After all, the leaker may have avoided using the cellphone or creating digital tracks. The affidavit is a sworn statement to federal investigators. If false, it could constitute a federal crime... https://t.co/uAMrE0R7kS— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) May 31, 2022
"The affidavit may be a greater concern for the leaker," George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley tweeted on Tuesday.
"After all, the leaker may have avoided using the cellphone or creating digital tracks. The affidavit is a sworn statement to federal investigators. If false, it could constitute a federal crime," Turley added.
Roberts ordered the investigation on May 3 and instructed the court's marshal, Gail Curley, to lead the probe.
While court marshals provide general security to the court, they also have the authority to make arrests over violations of state or federal law. However, any potential decision on prosecution related to the leak would likely come from the Department of Justice.
The leaked draft opinion in the case was written by Justice Samuel Alito and appeared to show a five-justice majority in favor of reversing the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
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Since the leak, the high court building has been surrounded by an 8-foot fence, similar to the one that surrounded the U.S. Capitol following the riots on Jan. 6, 2021. Supreme Court justices have also endured protests outside of their homes since the leaked draft was reported by Politico.
Justices are still on track to release 33 more decisions in cases argued throughout the term, which is slated to conclude toward the end of June.
The Washington Examiner contacted the Supreme Court but did not receive a response.