Former SCOTUS clerk says ‘nothing’s easier’ about leaking documents

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Emory Law professor Alexander Volokh knows what it’s like to walk through the hallways of the highest court in the land. He worked as a U.S. Supreme Court clerk in 2005 and 2006.

“They really impressed on everybody the importance of absolute confidentiality,” said Volokh.

But that confidentiality went out the window Monday when a 98-page document on a monumental abortion rights case was leaked.

“Leaks are very rare,” said Volokh. “This is the first time – I know of – that there actually has been a leak of an entire drafted opinion.”

The draft opinion was written by his former boss, Justice Samuel Alito.

“Justices rely on the ability to be candid, have drafts which they then rely, and sometimes revise very substantially before they agree on a final decision to release,” said Volokh.

But that process may forever be changed – with a leak of documents once protected by a code of honor.

“It is totally contrary to all of the confidentiality rules,” said Volokh.

Despite those rules, CBS46 asked Volokh how easy it would be for someone who wanted to get a document like this out the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Nothing’s easier,” said Volokh. “When I was a clerk, I had access to the papers coming through. All I had to do is make a copy and print it out and I can take it out of the building and give it to anybody.”

CBS46 News asked other legal experts at Emory Law who said leaking the documents isn’t technically illegal because they aren’t classified documents. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the person who may have leaked the documents would get off scot-free.

Chief Justice John Roberts is calling for an investigation.