Lawmakers poised to renew push to criminalize Supreme Court leaks
Published in Political News
WASHINGTON — A Supreme Court report this week on the leak of a draft opinion has revitalized an effort from two Louisiana Republicans to criminalize leaking information from the high court, a step some experts say could get messy if it became law.
Though the report Thursday from Marshal of the Supreme Court Gail A. Curley said officials did not find out who may have leaked the opinion last year, it did encourage the Supreme Court to engage in “consideration” of legislation from Rep. Mike Johnson and Sen. Bill Cassidy as part of efforts to prevent another leak.
The two lawmakers took the report as a starting pistol this session to reintroduce their bills to make a Supreme Court leak a felony that could carry either five or 10 years in prison.
Those measures did not move last Congress, when the leak in one of the most high-profile cases in decades indicated that a majority of the justices had voted in favor of overturning the constitutional right to an abortion.
Johnson, in a statement, called the report “an unfortunate development” for the Supreme Court, and his office announced Friday he would reintroduce his legislation. The version introduced last session would make disclosure of notes, internal communications or documents of the Supreme Court a federal felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
“Congress should now follow through on the Supreme Court Marshal’s implicit endorsement of legislation to expressly prohibit such leaks, in order to better protect the future operations of our nation’s highest court,” Johnson’s statement said.
Cassidy expressed a similar sentiment in a statement Thursday, saying he would reintroduce his bill to “hold those who undermine the integrity of the Court accountable.” Under the version of the bill Cassidy proposed last session, a Supreme Court employee could face up to 10 years in prison for leaking a draft opinion.
Court workers could also face prison time if they leak certain employee communication or the “personal information” of Supreme Court justices that “is not otherwise legally available to the public,” that bill stated.
“This is important and needed legislation since it was mentioned multiple times in the Marshal’s report,” Cassidy said in the statement.
The federal judiciary previously has backed some legislation through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
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