Terrified Supreme Court clerks plead as probe into leaked draft notice quashing Roe v. Wade fuels hostility: report
Tensions continue to mount at the Supreme Court since a draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked last month, breaking long-standing precedent and drawing criticism from the judges.
According to a report by Nina Totenberg of NPRwho has covered legal affairs and the high court for decades.
“I don’t know how on earth the court is going to complete its work this quarter,” a source close to the court told NPR. The source said the clerks act as something of a diplomat between the judges, who at this point in the year would usually work together to settle disagreements over cases.
But, the source said, in addition to the growing mistrust between the judges, the clerks are so terrified that their professional lives will be threatened as the investigation into the leak unfolds, that communication between them is strained.
Although the flight itself is not an actual crime, CNN reported last week that clerks were asked to hand over their cellphone data and sign sworn affidavits, in which lying would be illegal.
Clerks are now “lawyers” and consult with law firms accordingly, NPR reported Wednesday. The outlet added that clerks who seek legal advice also raise ethical questions, since some of the companies they consult have cases before the Supreme Court.
Concerns among clerks are piling up on the growing animosity that has been reported among judges.
Judge Sonia Sotomayorin a dissenting opinion published Wednesday, went so far as to call it a “restless, newly constituted court,” apparently a nod to recent Trump-appointed judges.
Shortly after the leak Justice Clarence Thomas said it was an “unthinkable breach of trust” and suggested he had lost faith in the court as an institution. And in an appearance after the leak, Judge Samuel Alito refused to say if he and the other judges were still friendly enough to have a meal together.