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Professor Jonathan Turley on SCOTUS Leak: “An Unspeakably Unethical Act”

Professor Jonathan Turley on SCOTUS Leak: “An Unspeakably Unethical Act”

“We’re living in an age of rage where nothing seems inviolate anymore, no principles seems sacred, and it makes some of us feel almost naive.”

Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University appeared on FOX News yesterday to offer his analysis on the leaked Supreme Court opinion on Roe v. Wade.

It sounds like a much more serious situation when you hear Turley describe it.

Transcript via FOX News:

JONATHAN TURLEY: What is clear is that what occurred with this leak was an unspeakably unethical act, and it is unfortunately a sign of our times. We’re living in an age of rage where nothing seems inviolate anymore, no principles seems sacred, and it makes some of us feel almost naive. Even though this is a city that floats on a rolling sea of leaks, the court was always an island of integrity, and most of us didn’t think this day would come. And I’m not too sure why. Maybe it’s because we let hope triumph over experience.

But the court has a long tradition that it would not yield to politics. It would not yield to dirty tricks. Somebody shattered that tradition, and the investigation that will now ensue is going to shatter the culture of the court. It’s going to take a lot to get to the bottom of this. Yes, it’s a small institution. It’s a small number of people that are likely involved. But whoever did this likely took steps to hide their tracks.

Turley goes on to suggest that when this person is found out, his or her legal career is effectively over and that they will likely be disbarred.

Watch the segment below:

The SCOTUS blog had a similar reaction:

Turley went a bit further speculating about the investigation and possible punishments on his blog:

The question is how the Court will proceed in the investigation. Anyone taking this deeply unethical act is likely to have taken steps to hide their tracks. I would be surprised if there were a paper trail or email record. However, anyone who would take such a reckless act may have been equally reckless in the means used to violate the Court’s rules.

If the culprit is a lawyer, disbarment would seem a virtual certainty. This person may be a hero in the eyes of some, but will remain a pariah in the eyes of any ethical lawyer. Yet, disbarment could be the least of the problems. If a suspect lies to the FBI, there could be prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 1001.

Thus, the culprit will have to make a decision today of whether to radically increase the potential costs of this act. There are a relatively small number of individuals with access to these drafts. It is likely that the culprit will be contacted quickly with others by investigators. That will prove a critical moment that could transform an unethical into a criminal act.

This person should be made an example of, as a warning to others. Leaks to the media for the sake of dirty politics have become far too common.

Featured image via YouTube.


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2smartforlibs | May 4, 2022 at 9:11 am

It’s become SOP for the left. Look at all the leaks under Trump and not a word under this regime.

    guyjones in reply to 2smartforlibs. | May 4, 2022 at 10:54 am

    Also, there were no leaks in narcissist-incompetent, Obama’s, administration, despite the slew of incompetent/destructive foreign policies that he was responsible for, e.g., kowtowing to Putin; enabling/funding/flattering Iran’s fanatical Islamic despots; whitewashing/rationalizing/excusing Islamic terrorism, at every opportunity.

    And, as far as President Trump’s tenure, I recall the myriad subversive, lawless leakers from “Anonymous,” to the vile and despicable “Call Me Lieutenant-Colonel” Vindman and his accomplice, Eric Ciamarella.

I really hate to point fingers, but I wonder whether Democrats or Republicans were behind this unspeakably unethical act?

While there is a sense of rage at the leaker’s betrayal of the institution, which should properly fade over time, there is a practical side as well. I assume that the leaker was a clerk. If so, his or her employment with the Court will end with the discovery of his or her identity or the end of the term. By his or her actions, he or she has shown that he or she values the advancement of a cause over the obligation to keep confidences. If you were a partner at a law firm, would you want to hire this person and entrust him or her with your client’s confidences? If you were a client, would want him or her to work on you legal matters?

    irv in reply to chaswjd. | May 4, 2022 at 9:25 am

    You’re making the mistake of thinking rationally.

    The leaker is already known to top level members of the Democrat party and will be invited to testify to congress about the evil ways of Alito and the other vile creatures on the court. This may be used to bolster an impeachment attempt, or it may just be used to drive fundraising.

    They might make some attempt to make things more dramatic by pretending to hide the leaker’s identity, though it will eventually be “leaked” to friendly media anyway.

    The leaker will then be rewarded with a big book deal, free fawning publicity on the talk show circuit (formerly known as late night comedy) and then a full professorship at some place like Harvard or Yale and astronomical speaking fees for years.

    This was not the act of a lone leaker, risking all for the cause. The left doesn’t work that way. It was a planned and coordinated intel operation. The “leaker” may, in fact, have been planted for just such an operation. A sleeper, who expects to be treated like a hero.

      Peabody in reply to irv. | May 4, 2022 at 9:42 am

      Why hasn’t the President of the United States condemned this unspeakably unethical act? He is not concerned about the leak, only with what was leaked.

      As you say, they probably already know the identiy of the leaker. No doubt the pardon is already sitting on the President’s desk waiting to be signed.

      jb4 in reply to irv. | May 4, 2022 at 11:08 am

      Agree – think Christine Blasey Ford.

      jimB in reply to irv. | May 4, 2022 at 8:12 pm

      My thoughts exactly. But look at the kind of lawyers being trained by Yale and Harvard these days. Political activists, not the kind of lawyers back when I graduated from Georgetown. Yeah, add my alma mater to the list. All are too woke to be objective.

      AnAdultInDiapers in reply to irv. | May 5, 2022 at 3:47 am

      This is why a contempt of court charge with a hefty sentence should be the response.

    randian in reply to chaswjd. | May 4, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    If you were a partner at a law firm, would you want to hire this person and entrust him or her with your client’s confidences?

    Plenty of progressive public-interest firms like the SPLC that would hire this person and hail them as a hero.

    lc in reply to chaswjd. | May 5, 2022 at 6:35 am

    The end justifies the means mentality.
    No matter what.

ernest1000 | May 4, 2022 at 9:31 am

Betting the California bar will give them a license.

It is this,

“from John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist as he dissects the roots and ramifications of The Leak: “Whenever the left feels they have lost control of an institution, they try to destroy it.” These “Democrats” have yammered on and on about ‘our Democracy’ and ‘their Democracy’ but not often if at all have they said ‘our Republic’. Chuck Shumer blathers about packing the court now that it is controlled by the wrong people. He wants to impeach conservative judges for wrong think. If Chuck and his “Democrats” want to go this route then he and his boys may just touch off a real civil war, not just theoretical.

Close The Fed | May 4, 2022 at 9:52 am

My bet is, it was someone that holds dual citizenship.

We have all read the articles commenting that an Asian Indian is clerking for one of the leftie women justices. He also was quoted in 2017 by the reporter who wrote the Politico story on the opinion.

Soooooo, my bet, it’s that Indian.

So…. they have a caste system over there, which they’re importing to here. They do not share our system of morals. They just don’t. Figure it out. Import a different culture, get a different culture.

Wait until some Mexican cartel member dismembers and skins a congressman or senator by mistake. That will get them caught by surprise. “What? Those Aztec descendants use knives to carve people up?!?! Who knew that?! CLOSE THOSE INTERSTATES INTO D.C.!!”

Steven Brizel | May 4, 2022 at 10:05 am

Any investigation should begin with questioning each clerk under oath, and sequestering and investigating each clerk’s cellphone and computers-including both any government paid for devices and privately owned devices, with a careful look for recent emails and texts to Politico or the recent deletion of the same. The clerk who denies under oath and his electronic devices contains such smoking gun is the target. If a special reporter is appointed, the records, computers and cellphones of the reporter at Politico should be subpoenaed as well -that would raise the issue of whether such a subpoena violates a shield law, but this is an unprecedented case and such cases demand thinking outside of the conventional investigatory box.

I understand that US Marshals provide security for scotus but why did Roberts assign the case to them and not the FBI? Or have them cooperate in the investigation?

Lying to the FBI is criminal but not so to ordinary police – do the marshals enjoy similar powers?

I don’t trust Robert’s since his Obamacare flimflam and I have read that he will join the majority (that he disagrees with) for the sole purpose of being able to write the opinion -and hence limit / cripple it. Is he trying to hinder the investigation by setting the second team in charge?

    taurus the judge in reply to BobM. | May 4, 2022 at 10:39 am

    Roberts followed proper protocol. The Marshals have original jurisdiction and can call in other agencies if needed.

    Lying to ANY LEO in an investigation is chargeable. ( whether its pursued or not is a different matter)

    I agree with not trusting him under any circumstance but so far he has followed the process.

      alaskabob in reply to taurus the judge. | May 4, 2022 at 10:53 am

      Is the “Marshal of the Court” the same as US Marshals? I don’t think do. Similar name…not the same?

        taurus the judge in reply to alaskabob. | May 4, 2022 at 11:39 am

        I didn’t say US Marshal, Bob did. (I should have been more specific)

        The Court’s Marshal is a designated LE agency for the court just like the Capitol Police and College police- as such, they have original jurisdiction as I stated.

    randian in reply to BobM. | May 4, 2022 at 5:06 pm

    Why would you bring an agency as corrupt as the FBI to investigate this? They are in ideological alignment with the leaker.

Other than possibly being fired, nothing will happen to the leaker. He or she is a leftist, so it will be deemed not serious enough to prosecute.

taurus the judge | May 4, 2022 at 10:35 am

For all who think there will ever be a fruit of this investigation, its best you just go ahead and forget it. The odds are astronomical of discovering the actual perpetrator. (However, this does NOT exclude a potential fall guy/girl who is either innocently set up or complicit for the cause)

Here’s why: (based on the media file in the public and what little information there is out there assuming its accurate)

An admission is out of the question (one would have to believe if someone was going to admit or take credit, it would have either been done or had a signature on the release).

Getting source info from the press is almost impossible based on many precedents. (Possible but extremely unlikely)

Anyone who thinks the document (or the print code) is going to help may as well hang it up now. (Unless there is a different file than the one I downloaded- that could change things a bit). The available file is a scan ( different size) than the original document in the native file so that makes the print code almost useless due to distortion and fade. ( much different than a 1st generation copy from a native file)

Nobody knows which copy of a copy this is ( how many hands from the source in paper and people)

Nobody knows when it was “appropriated” or how ( digital file or paper)

We don’t know the source machine it was printed from either ( the document could have been stored in a spooler or memory and gotten by a service tech)

The document could have been retyped from another copy and the distro stamp attached manually or digitally)

Document could have been removed by hacking.

The mule who gave to Politico may not be the document source to build in dead ends. ( could have been an anon mailer or delivery)

Could be someone totally unconnected with the court.

So unless there is a significant amount of good evidence out there that’s not in the media or the available source PDF – the odds of finding out the true source are about 6 inches short of impossible.

    Peabody in reply to taurus the judge. | May 4, 2022 at 12:04 pm

    Chief Justice Roberts delivers a lecture each year to new clerks saying leaks will be punished severely. Then he holds up a wooden ruler and says, “A word to the wise. Your knucles will really be painful if you get caught leaking.”

      taurus the judge in reply to Peabody. | May 5, 2022 at 11:48 am

      I can ascribe that to a guilty dog barking.

      Personally, he is still on my personal prime suspect list as being the leaker.

MoeHowardwasright | May 4, 2022 at 10:36 am

Chief Justice Robert’s is the head of the FISA court. Place a call down to the FISA and have all phone records, emails, IP addresses, etc. gathered up for each clerk, admin, secretary. That will produce the leaker forthwith. Oh, that’s right, we only do those things to Republicans or conservatives. My bad.

Because of the immediate and coordinated response of the Democrats, I think this leak was actually coordinated with the DNC–I believe there are a limited number of people who must have had access to this, and I think it must have been a clerk. That being said, they should get the FBI involved so that if the criminal leaker lies to the FBI, they can be prosecuted–assuming anyone has the spine to do that.

And given how pervasive the use of email is, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s some kind of email or other trail that leads to the leaker.

NDconservative | May 4, 2022 at 11:10 am

The left has been sitting on this awaiting an ‘October surprise’ before the midterms, but with special counsel Durham going to court with Sussmann this month, someone panicked and here we are.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.; :0)

Each judge has four legal interns and works closely with them. It is thus reasonable to assume that there is at least one judge who knows, or at least suspects, who did this. How complicated could it be to figure this out? Each judge should be suspecting the other judges and each of them should be further suspecting their legal interns. Hopefully, this is a key part of the investigation. Get the nooses first around each judge and hold them responsible to prove they weren’t in on it.

Lucifer Morningstar | May 4, 2022 at 11:16 am

If a suspect lies to the FBI, there could be prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 1001.

OMG! He is really naive if he thinks there will be a prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 1001 if the perpetrator of this “leak” lies to the FBI. That only applies if the person is a Republican. Democrats are always given a pass when it comes to violations of the law.

Has the leaker committed a criminal offense? Has any law been broken?

By what authority does the US Marshal have in investigating this matter?

No authority, no crime? Then there can be no subpoenas, no grand jury, no questioning

Roberts might have well called in a local zoo keeper to find out who leaked the document.

    taurus the judge in reply to catscradle. | May 5, 2022 at 12:06 pm

    Technically, the leak proper is almost certainly NOT a codified “criminal ” offense.

    If stretched to the max with a bribed prosecutor, maybe petty theft/theft by taking.

    If the leaker was sworn to secrecy or other obligation, maybe a civil penalty.

Disbarment? NO BIG DEAL. This person will be a millionaire many times over by this time next year. Failing upward is a Leftist specialty.

    Peabody in reply to DanJ1. | May 4, 2022 at 12:11 pm

    “Failing upward is a Leftist speciality.”

    “Falling upward is a Biden speciality.”

It’s just another failure of gentlemen’s agreements, which long ago ran even the Senate.

The court is overestimating the esteem it’s held in though.

RandomCrank | May 4, 2022 at 12:46 pm

Maybe I’ll change my mind, but at the moment my pantaloons are untwisted. So the draft was leaked. I understand why they’d be upset within the Court, but to me it verges on “So what.” If any justices change their minds, it’s really their cowardice at play.

By the way, I say the above as someone who thinks the draft is too extreme, and who thinks Politico is in cahoots with the usual suspects. If it’s designed to intimidate the Court, I’d be surprised if it works. So the opinion comes out a couple months early; did anyone really think the case would be decided otherwise?

We know what the “progressives” will say. This one is very much a matter of what conservatives say. If the line of attack is at the leak, it will fall flat. Like it or not, the public has a mixed mind on the issue, and any conservative needs to realize that.

I have to laugh seeing the comments (professionals like Turley) about how this person will be de-barred, and career over, etc. . Please. Nothing of substance will happen. Remember the DOJ attorney that falsified documents for the Carter Page FISA wire taps? He did it multiple times and confessed. He was given probation and only a 1 year suspension of his law license.

I think this leak was carefully planned. If I am correct than protecting the identity of the person who gave the draft to Politico was also planned. Along with protecting his/her identification assurances were probably made that no real penalty would be levied should that person be revealed. Which means I seriously doubt disbarment or any other threats to a legal career will ensue.

To be honest I would not be surprised if ABA in its embrace of wokeness announced that the importance of ROEvWADE far outweighed keeping SCOTUS’ draft on it out of public view. That lawyers have a duty to act and get ahead of such decisions so that a response can be made stopping the effect of such decisions.

To the Left abortionists are today’s abolitionist and they really, really want their Harpers Ferry moment.

Brandon: “What’s next?!?! LGBT children banned from schools?!?!

Prepubescent LGBT children??? CHILDREN??? How sick is THAT!

henrybowman | May 5, 2022 at 3:03 am

You posted this lie in another thread, and were fisked there.
Claiming that a justice nominated by a Republican president is a “conservative justice” is the height of duplicity. Souter was nominated by Bush, for heaven’s sake.

tekovyahoser | May 6, 2022 at 11:46 am

Ask each clerk if they wish to speak to the FBI on the record. Any saying no is your culprit.