Turley: Supreme Court escalating hunt for 'Roe' opinion leaker

The Supreme Court appears to be escalating its hunt for the person who committed what constitutional expert Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University, calls a “disgracefully unethical act,” in leaking a draft opinion.

The document in question was in a Mississippi abortion case and if the opinion as leaked were to become final, it would overturn Roe v. Wade and return regulation of America’s profitable abortion industry to the states.

The Washington Examiner has reported that officials at the court are requiring law clerks to provide cell-phone records and sign affidavits.

Turley explained the issue that could prove the undoing for the culprit is the one involving affidavits.

“Once signed, the leaker will reaffirm his or her potential criminal liability,” he explained.

“The leaker may have wisely avoided using the cellphone or creating digital tracks. The affidavit is a sworn statement to federal investigators. If false, it would establish that a federal crime has been committed. Under 18 U.S.C. 1001, it is a federal crime to knowingly and willfully make a materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the United States. While there were possible criminal claims that could have been brought based on the leak, this makes such criminality clear and undeniable.”

He continued, “That would mean that any doubt would be removed for the leaker. If he or she were to go public or be uncovered in the future, there would be a risk of not simply disbarment but criminal prosecution. The leaker may expect that they will be lionized for this effort in the media, though that is more likely if it was a liberal rather than a conservative leaker. This could frustrate such plans. Frankly, I am surprised that such affidavits were not required in the first week.”

”What is clear is that this was a disgracefully unethical act that shattered the long traditions of the court. The affidavits will make it more difficult for this individual to later try to capitalize on this wrongful act.”

He also reported legal experts say that clerks may now feel the need to seek independent legal counsel.

CNN reported its sources confirmed that the clerks were being required to turn over cell phone records and signed affidavits in the hunt for the culprit who released the draft opinion.

“Some clerks are apparently so alarmed over the moves, particularly the sudden requests for private cell data, that they have begun exploring whether to hire outside counsel,” the report said.

The report explained the “escalating scrutiny” shows that Chief Justice John Roberts has not yet identified the source of the leak, and may be concerned about future leaks.

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