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Nearly three months after the Supreme Court opinion on abortion rights was leaked to the media, the question of who is responsible remains the mystery of the Washington summer.

Chief Justice John Roberts ordered a court martial to conduct an internal investigation, but there has been no official update and no indication whether the investigation is ongoing, concluded or suspended.

However, multiple sources tell Fox News that the trial has been shortened to about 70 people in court who had access to the draft opinion. Much of the focus is on the three dozen or so law clerks who work directly with judges on their caseloads. Fox News previously reported that law clerks were asked to turn in their cellphones and sign affidavits. It is unclear whether all those clerks cooperated.

Supreme Court law clerks serve on a one-year contract for individual judges, and their terms typically end in mid-July. Many of the law clerks have now probably moved on to other jobs, and any future cooperation with them in a leak investigation would be viewed as problematic.

Demonstrators protest outside the US Supreme Court Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Washington

Demonstrators protest outside the US Supreme Court Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Washington
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Supreme Court’s Roe v. Decision of: Dobbs v. Read the Jackson Women’s Health Ruling

Court Marshal Gail Curley told Fox News that several permanent court staff members who had access to the draft opinion were also asked to turn in their cell phones and electronic devices.

But the key question of the leaker’s identity remains unknown, at least not publicly. Whether any punishment or discipline is forthcoming is also unanswered; whether outside of federal law enforcement or hired to assist a private law or security firm; And what steps, if any, should be taken to prevent such leaks in the future.

Patricia McCabe, the court’s public information officer, gave an official “no comment” when asked by Fox News Friday.

A day after the leak in early May, Roberts announced an internal investigation, which has not been given a deadline or a mandate that has been publicly released.

“To the extent that this betrayal of the court’s trust is intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” the chief justice said in a rare public statement. “The work of the court will not be affected in any way.”

All this comes amid ongoing, underlying tensions at the court. The building is surrounded by high metal fencing, erected shortly after the draft leaked to Politico on May 3. That draft prepared at least five conservative justices at the time to overturn nearly five decades of Roe v. Wade precedent and end the nationwide constitutional right to abortion. The final opinion released on June 24 did just that, creating enormous political, legal and social ripples as states and Congress now grapple with revising and crafting access to process legislation.

A day after the draft opinion was leaked, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts announced an internal investigation

A day after the draft opinion was leaked, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts announced an internal investigation
(Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty Images)

Judges and their families are now under 24-hour protection and vocal protesters are regularly seen at the homes of some judges. A California man has been charged with attempted murder of Justice Brett Kavanagh after he was arrested near the judge’s Maryland home and threatened with a handgun.

Inside the court, the leak and subsequent final opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization exacerbated an already strained dynamic among the nine justices, with a 6-3 conservative majority moving aggressively on hot-button issues like guns in the past two years. Rights, immigration, religious freedom and executive power.

“Look where we are, where we are now — that belief or that belief is gone forever,” Justice Clarence Thomas said shortly after the leak became public. “When you lose that trust, especially in the organization I’m in, it fundamentally changes the organization. You start looking over your shoulder. It’s like a kind of distrust that you can explain…but you can’t undo. It is.”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas no longer teaches at the George Washington Law Seminar after the scandal

Thomas is not exaggerating. But several people close to the justices say the nine members hope the ongoing summer break will serve as a “cooling off” period after tensions in the final weeks and months of the last term made the special office extremely difficult.

And the hope is that new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will bring a fresh perspective and a new dynamism to the court — someone who, like her mentor and predecessor, Justice Stephen Breyer, will be able to cross the ideological aisle on many issues.

Jackson officially joined the court on July 1 and has spent the past few weeks quietly going into her chambers and hiring her small staff — including four law clerks who play a crucial support role — as a sounding board for the many big cases and small ones that come her way.

The Supreme Court of the United States is surrounded by high metal fencing.

The Supreme Court of the United States is surrounded by high metal fencing.
(Fox News Digital/Lisa Bennaton)

Her colleagues — and the public at large — will be watching to see how quickly Jackson, 51, adjusts to a fractured court and whether she is the strong progressive voice President Biden and her supporters have promised.

Like last term, the court docket for the next term, which begins in October, is already filled with its share of divisive cases — college admissions, religious freedom and LGBTQ+ rights, immigration policy and affirmative action in electoral redistricting.

For now, the conservative majority is poised to continue its winning streak.

“The continuation of where they’re going, I expect them to be controlled by a conservative majority,” said Thomas Dupree, a former Justice Department official and now a prominent appellate attorney.

“When you replace one liberal vote with another liberal vote there is no great ideological change,” added Justice Jackson. “But at the same time, judges on history say that if you ever have a member of the court, because it’s a nine-person body, it’s a new court. The dynamics between the people are different than the backstage discussions. Different, and you never know how it’s going to play out in the end. But at least in the future. , I think we’re going to see a conservative majority controlling the outcome in a lot of big-ticket cases,” Dupree said. .

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Justice Elena Kagan expressed concern about how the public would perceive the court’s move forward.

“I’m not talking about any particular decision or any particular decisions, but if over time the Court loses all connection with the people and with public sentiment, that’s a dangerous thing for democracy,” Kagan said at the judicial conference. Last week in Montana. “Overall, the court retains its legitimacy and builds public confidence by acting like a court, doing things that don’t seem political or partisan to the public.”