Just when the Supreme Court thought the Dobbs leak “investigation” was behind it, the probe somehow looks even weaker.
According to reporting from CNN’s Joan Biskupic on Friday, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who wrote a letter endorsing the court marshal’s report last week on the investigation, has previously undisclosed financial ties to the court. According to Biskupic’s report, the court has paid Chertoff’s risk assessment firm at least $1 million “for consultations that extended over several months and involved a review of the justices’ homes.”
Recall that the probe failed to find the leaker of the draft Dobbs opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. That’s fine, because the leak wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. But as I’ve written previously, if the court wanted a thorough investigation, it didn’t get one. For one thing, the marshal didn’t ask the justices to sign affidavits swearing that they didn’t leak, although clerks and staff did so.
It’s understandable, to some extent, that the marshal — who works for the court — would feel uncomfortable conducting real interviews of her bosses or making them swear on paper that they aren’t liars. The investigation was sort of doomed from the start.
This latest news, then, underscores the probe’s incestuous nature. We already knew that Chertoff has ties to conservatives on the court, including Dobbs opinion author Samuel Alito. It’s doubtful that many people who recognized the report’s shortcomings put much stock in his approval in the first place. But like the marshal’s relationship to the court, Chertoff’s undisclosed ties also lessen whatever value the report had.
So in addition to pointing out that this is the court's latest transparency failure, I’ll note again that the justices can still take a step to make the investigation a little less pathetic: Step up and sign affidavits themselves, regardless of whether the marshal asked them to do so. With the probe’s apparent ability to get weaker over time, they might want to consider doing so sooner rather than later.