WASHINGTON – It's a Washington mystery that no one seems able to unravel. The Supreme Court apparently still hasn't found the person who leaked a draft of the court's major abortion decision earlier this year.
In a television interview airing this weekend, retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who left the court in June when the justices began their summer break, says he hasn't heard that the person's identity has been determined.
Breyer, 84, was speaking with CNN anchor Chris Wallace. According to a transcript provided by the network, Wallace asked about the leak, which happened in May: “Within 24 hours the chief justice ordered an investigation of the leaker. Have they found him or her?”
“Not to my knowledge, but ... I’m not privy to it,” Breyer responds. Wallace presses: “So in those months since, the chief justice never said, ‘Hey, we got our man or woman?’”
“To my knowledge, no,” again responded Breyer, who despite being retired maintains an office at the Supreme Court. The interview is to air Sunday on “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?”
Other justices have also suggested recently that the identity of the leaker remains unknown to the court. At a conference in Colorado this month Justice Neil Gorsuch said it is “terribly important” to identify the leaker and he is expecting a report on the progress of the investigation, “I hope soon.” Justice Elena Kagan also said recently she does not know if the investigation Roberts ordered has determined the source of the leak.
Breyer, a liberal appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton, also spoke on a range of other topics with Wallace.
He was a about Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist and the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, and her involvement in helping former President Donald Trump try to overturn his election defeat. Thomas has faced criticism for texting with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and contacting lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin in the weeks after the election. She recently agreed to participate in a voluntary interview with the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“I strongly believe that women who are wise, including wives of Supreme Court justices, have to make the decisions about how to lead their lives, careers, what kind of career etc., for themselves. So on this sort of issue, I understand where you’re going, but I’m not going there. ... I’m not going to criticize Ginni Thomas, whom I like. I’m not going to criticize Clarence whom I like. And there we are,” Breyer said.
Breyer, who watched his liberal colleague Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opt not to retire when President Barack Obama could have named a like-minded replacement, said he would miss being on the court but that it was time to leave. Ginsburg died near the end of former President Donald Trump's term, and he named the conservative Justice Amy Coney Barret to replace her. Barrett was confirmed just days before the presidential election that ousted Trump from office.
“I’ve done this for a long time. Other people should have a chance. The world does change. And we don’t know, frankly, what would happen, if I just stayed there and stayed there. How long would I have to stay there? ... I owe loyalty to the court, which means don’t muck things up. Do things in a regular order,” Breyer said.