More than a dozen United States Republican Congressmen introduced on Tuesday a bill that would hold individuals criminally liable for leaking confidential Supreme Court information.
Fox News reported that the new bill imposes a five-year maximum imprisonment sentence on the leaker when proven guilty and once the bill becomes a law.
Republicans Attempt To Repair The Supreme Court
The new bill was announced by Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana on Twitter on Tuesday. Johnson explained that the bill is part of their efforts in trying to repair the institution of the Court that was damaged by the draft opinion leak. The Congressman's post included screencaps of the bill's content.
The bill, officially titled "Leaker Accountability Act of 2022," intends to protect the Supreme Court from the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information by its employees or officers. The bill defined confidential information to include the Supreme Court's notes on cases heard, communication between a judge and employee or officer, or a judge's opinion--whether draft or final--that were disclosed prior to its public release.
The bill was introduced in the face of heightened investigations on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade leaking to the public. The opinion was published by Politico last May 2, creating a national uproar against the justices who were threatened by pro-abortion activists who rallied outside their homes.
Supreme Court Investigation On Draft Leak Intensifies
CNN reported that the Supreme Court's law clerks are currently considering hiring external legal counsels as court officials require them to surrender cell phone records and sign affidavits. The media outlet stressed the unprecedented move of court officials investigating the draft leak has alarmed some clerks since cell phone data is private information.
The heightened investigations come almost a month after Supreme Court Justice John Roberts ordered the Marshal of the Court to figure out Politico's source of the draft leak. Roberts has already met with the law clerks prior to court officials' request for phone data. Details on the said meeting were not provided, however, especially on whether individual interviews were conducted.
Accordingly, the affidavit's language is unclear on the intended scope in the time period covered for the cell phone search. The court officials' requirement for cell phone data search also did not specify whether all court employees will be subjected to it.
Slate Senior Writer Mark Joseph Stern criticized the investigation's demand for phone records in a tweet on Monday. Stern urged law clerks, who "know this better than most," that such a demand merits the answer "no" and "talk to my lawyer." Stern also raised the alleged unfairness of the demand in the light of the controversy involving Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas' wife, Ginni. The senior writer said the marshals aren't demanding phone records from Ginni, such that it "makes no zero sense to investigate clerks."
It's worth noting, however, that the issue on Ginni is unrelated to the current issue.. An unnamed source, speaking to Fox News, said the "corporate press" uses the "pathetic" "non-story" on Ginni to "attack" Justice Clarence Thomas especially in relation to the leaked draft.
Theories have surfaced on the source of the draft leak. One involved a clerk of a conservative justice "who was afraid that this majority might not hold" has provided a copy of the draft opinion to Politico. Another theory involved liberal justice's clerk leaking the document "to galvanize Democrats and shift the outcome."