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Supreme Court justices used personal email for work-related communications, and ‘burn bags’ with sensitive documents were left in hallways before Roe draft opinion leak: report

Supreme CourtThe US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

  • Several Supreme Court justices used their personal emails for work-related communications, per CNN.
  • Some printers didn’t use security logs, while “burn bags” were also left unattended, per the report.
  • After the leak of the Roe draft opinion, the court’s security measures have faced intense scrutiny.

Several Supreme Court justices utilized their personal email accounts for work-related communications in lieu of secure servers that were set up to protect such information — well before the Dobbs v. Jackson draft opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade was leaked to the media last year — according to CNN.

Multiple individuals with knowledge of the court’s operations told the network of longstanding internal practices that could have threatened its security, contributed to the leak of the draft opinion, and prevented the court from determining who disclosed the Roe document to the public.

In a stunning revelation, the individuals told CNN that Supreme Court employees utilized printers that didn’t produce logs, while “burn bags” — which were used to hold documents that would eventually be destroyed — were left unattended in hallways.

“This has been going on for years,” a former court employee told the network.

According to the report, the email issue persisted because several justices were slow in shifting to the new technology — and some staffers were anxious about approaching the jurists to take the added security measures, according to one individual who spoke with CNN.

A former court employee told CNN that the justices were “not masters of information security protocol.”

In its final report probing the Dobbs draft leak, the court in a statement called the action a “grave assault” on the court’s legitimacy, with the Marshal of the Court seeking to craft a strategy to avoid such a scenario moving forward.

The added revelations come as the Supreme Court has hit a major crossroads. It has become a body dominated by right-leaning jurists — with a 6-3 conservative tilt — and in recent years has made several rulings that have not only been unpopular among the general public but have contributed to a sharp decline in confidence of the court among Americans.

The justices have by and large sought to defend the integrity of the court, especially in the aftermath of the overturn of Roe v. Wade last June — which ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights.

But the leak of the draft decision has raised even more questions about the court’s handling of key internal matters.

The final report last month stated that “it is not possible to determine the identity of any individual who may have disclosed the document or how the draft opinion ended up with Politico.” 

And Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley in the report remarked that the “court’s current method of destroying court sensitive documents has vulnerabilities that should be addressed.”

However, according to three former employees who spoke with CNN, there were no standard protocols for handling the “burn bags,” which hold sensitive documents that are subsequently destroyed.

Per a source with knowledge of the court’s security measures, employees can utilize the burn bags which are then taken to the Supreme Court building’s basement and then picked up by a shredding company.

While some burn bags were stapled shut, some were just filled to the top and left near desks to be picked up, while others were left unattended in the hallway outside of the chambers, per the CNN report.

The source also told CNN that it would not have been hard for an individual with a clearance to non-public areas of the court to get a hold of sensitive materials.

Read the original article on Business Insider