Before a majority on the Supreme Court overturned the precedent of Roe v Wade with the Dobbs decision, someone leaked a draft version of the final decision. That leak, and the fact that the Supreme Court was about to overturn 50 years of what even the conservative justices called “settled law” and “important precedent,” inspired millions of women and men to go on a crusade that profoundly affected the 2022 midterms. They affected it in a way that greatly displeased the GOP who predicted a “red wave” and ended up with a puddle.
The Supreme Court conducted an investigation into who was responsible for the leak to the media. That investigation has now concluded without learning the identity of the leaker.
The investigation did show the American people one thing. And that “thing” is something many Americans already believe — that in America, all are not equal in the eyes of the law, despite any old documents and politicians claiming that Americans are.
The investigation should have treated everyone equal. It did not. Staffers and employees were given one level of scrutiny. The actual 9 justices received a much more “kid glove” type treatment.
One court staffer complained, “They weren’t subjected to the same level of scrutiny. It’s hard to imagine any of them suffering meaningful consequences even if they were implicated in the leak.”
Attorney Mark Zaid agreed, saying failure to adequately press the justices, “just completely undermines the court’s credibility. It sends a message of superiority that does not exist under the eyes of the law.”
While the justices were asked some questions, they did not have to sign sorn affidavits to verify their testimony was true and complete. All the staffers and employees did. Justices also reportedly did not get questioned at the same level as the justices did according to reports.
It does undermine the court’s credibility, at a time when the people’s trust in the court is at historic lows. In fact, in the history of the Gallup poll measuring just that, it is the 1st time that a majority of Americans question the court’s credibility.
In covering the investigation, NY Times reporter Jodi Kantor described how this “investigation” only undermined the public’s trust in the court, undermined the justices’ trust in each other as well as how this gives fodder to Americans who believe that all are not equal under the law.
“In interviews, some employees said the leak and investigation further tainted the atmosphere inside a court that had already grown tense with disagreement. The leak spurred finger pointing, they said, with many conservatives convinced that a liberal had engineered the breach and vice versa. Just as the justices have grown more divided, so has their staff, eroding trust. Voices are more hushed now, the employees said, and doors that used to be open are closed.” She added, “In recent months, as the court has completed its report, new clerks have taken their places inside the chambers. Security is tightening. Further protocol changes are promised. And with the release of the report, a growing recognition has taken hold, some employees say: The best chance of understanding who leaked the most consequential decision in generations, and what that person was trying to achieve, is fading away.”
Time will tell whether the leaker’s identity will ever be discovered. But if the court continues these patterns of diminishing transparency, with the public or even with each other, they will only affirm that despite the platitudes and claims, Americans are not equal under the law.