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Reports: Law clerks among SCOTUS leak suspects

(NewsNation) — More than eight months into the investigation of the leak of the draft opinion revealing the fall of Roe v. Wade, investigators have narrowed their sights on “a small number of suspects,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The suspects include law clerks, but people familiar with the situation told the paper investigators haven’t identified the person behind the leak. Little else is known publicly about the investigation and it’s unclear when or if a report will made public.

Each justice is provided four law clerks, although it’s possible other court employees might have had access to the document, according to the WSJ.

After hearing oral arguments in a typical case, the justices go back to a conference room where they take an initial vote and one justice is appointed to write a draft opinion, experts explained to NewsNation’s Leland Vittert shortly after the leak. That opinion is then distributed among the justices and clerks.

The draft was leaked to Politico last spring, sparking nationwide protests and launching an investigation into how the draft opinion got out.

Chief Justice John Roberts opened the investigation and assigned Supreme Court Marshal Col. Gail Curley with getting to the bottom of the leak.

Since then, tensions within the court have remained high, one longtime SCOTUS reporter wrote in The Atlantic.

“…The justices are betraying signs of impatience and frustration with one another — sometimes bordering on disrespect,” Steven Mazie recently wrote in The Atlantic.

Names of the potential suspects haven’t been released, but CNN reported that Supreme Court clerks were asked in May to turn over their private cellphone data.

The leak amounted to an unprecedented breach of court secrecy outside of published opinions and a whirlwind of protest outside the court and in front of Supreme Court justices’ homes.

Republicans expressed outrage over the leak’s consequences, which included the arrest of a man prosecutors say planned to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

They’ve also pushed for answers on the investigation.

“There aren’t many secrets in this town, but for some reason this individual has certainly been sheltered and there is absolutely, I think, evidence that there are specific people that know who this person is and why they haven’t been identified at this point is beyond me,” Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Wis.) said Dec. 8.

The leak and the ultimate decision to overturn Roe and leave abortion to the states ushered in a patchwork of abortion laws at the state level.

Post-Roe, 24 states have banned or are likely to ban abortion. That’s according to the abortion rights-aligned Guttmacher Institute and public reporting.

Several states, however, protected the right to abortion through ballot initiatives or state court decisions, reflecting the majority of the public’s support for abortion rights.