Behind the scenes at the secretive Supreme Court
CNN —Supreme Court justices take extraordinary precautions to protect their internal deliberations.
They swear their law clerks to secrecy.
Much is unspecified about the investigation, and it remains uncertain whether the source of the Politico disclosure will ever be known.
Irrespective of this breach, the justices’ general lack of transparency has increasingly become the subject of debate, including by President Joe Biden’s bipartisan commission on court reform.
The court justifiably wants to ensure candid internal debate and allow for persuasive negotiation and changed views.
Clerks – each justice employs four per annual session – closely track all developments in a case and the continuing private discussions among the justices.
If he himself is not in the majority on the case, the most senior justice in the majority assigns the leading court opinion.
From legal pads to shredsSome justices begin composing their opinions on legal pads; others go right to the computer.
All draft opinions are printed out and circulated among the nine chambers by court aides.
So there would be both electronic and paper copies of draft opinions throughout the justices’ chambers.
Irrespective of what is saved, the court has extensive rules about materials that law clerks may remove from the building and the use of its dual computer systems.
Former law clerks told CNN that court opinions are supposed to be handled only on the closed, internal computer system, not the one through which justices, law clerks and other employees communicate with outsiders.