The recent exposure of a leaked draft opinion aimed at overturning the historic Roe v. Wade ruling has raised alarm bells about potential security breaches within the Supreme Court.
It has come to the forefront that certain justices have been resorting to personal email accounts to handle confidential communications, instead of utilizing the secure servers put in place to safeguard sensitive information.
Supreme Court’s Troubling Neglect of Internal Protocols
The information obtained by CNN paints a troubling picture of years-long neglect of internal protocols that could have jeopardized security and facilitated the recent leak of a draft opinion, making it difficult to identify the responsible party.
These newly disclosed details provide a more in-depth look into the extent of the Supreme Court’s internal struggles.
Supreme Court justices used personal email accounts for work. Did the Dobbs leak investigators review them?
“At this time, I cannot identify any additional useful investigative measures.”https://t.co/5YNji1ssfn
— Pete Strzok (@petestrzok) February 4, 2023
Employees have been known to utilize printers that do not leave a record of their activities, allowing for sensitive documents to be printed and potentially removed from the premises untracked.
Additionally, confidential materials intended for secure disposal in “burn bags” have been left unguarded and unattended in hallways. The severity of this issue was emphasized by a former employee who stated, “This has been going on for years.”
According to sources close to the Supreme Court, the persistent issue with the justices’ email usage can be attributed to both their slow adoption of technology and a reluctance among court employees to address the matter with them.
This lack of action has resulted in the justices not setting a strong example of taking security seriously.
A former court employee candidly told CNN, “The justices were not masters of information security protocol.” This further highlights the need for stricter measures to be put in place to ensure the protection of sensitive information within the highest court in the land.
To address the issue, the Marshal of the Court laid out a comprehensive plan to upgrade the current security protocol.
Deficiencies in the Current Protocol of Handling Sensitive Information
In her recent report, Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley highlighted the deficiencies in the current protocol for disposing of sensitive court documents, calling for a reevaluation of the system.
The validity of this concern was echoed by former court employees who spoke with CNN about the loose security surrounding the use of “burn bags” – specialized security bags used to hold confidential documents before they are destroyed.
New details about how lax document security was at the Supreme Court. For years some justices used private email accounts for sensitive information and burn bags were left in hallways in non-public areas of the court : https://t.co/Yx0EswiX7Q
— Ariane de Vogue (@Arianedevogue) February 4, 2023
According to a former Supreme Court worker, the lack of proper document tracking caused by the absence of adequate printer logs and the ability to print sensitive information remotely using VPN access has complicated investigations.
The situation was particularly pronounced in the case of the leaked draft opinion, which was distributed internally on February 10, 2022, but was not investigated until May, when it was published by Politico.
The limited 60-document logging capacity of the printers means that crucial records for the investigation may have been lost. When asked for comment on this matter, the Supreme Court declined to provide any statement.