According to a new exclusive report from CNN, the U.S. Supreme Court has failed to disclose “longstanding financial ties” that it has with former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
This is potentially significant for multiple reasons, including that Chertoff independently validated the court’s recent investigation into the unprecedented leak of the draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Who is Chertoff?
CNN reports that Chertoff “had well-known personal connections to the justices [including Chief Justice John Roberts] through his Ivy League education, prior judicial clerkships, and tenure in the two Bush administrations.”
Former President George H.W. Bush, in the early 1990s, selected Chertoff to be the U.S. attorney in New Jersey. And, in 2005, Chertoff was made the Homeland Security secretary by then-President George W. Bush.
In 2009, Chertoff set up his own private risk assessment firm – The Chertoff Group – and, in recent years, the Supreme Court, according to CNN, has been paying Chertoff large sums of money for various things, including revamping court police security and advising the court about its COVID-19 response.
Yet, CNN reports, that the court has chosen to keep this financial relationship mostly under wraps. And, it appears that the court is continuing to do so.
Chertoff’s involvement in the leak investigation
Recently, Gail A. Curley – the marshal of the Supreme Court – released the findings of the investigation into the unprecedented leak in Dobbs. This is the case in which the justice, last summer, overturn the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade.
Much to the dismay of many, Curley’s report states that the investigation – which had lasted some nine months – was “unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.”
The report did, however, reveal that the Supreme Court had several security vulnerabilities that could have made the leak easier to carry out.
This all received a lot of news coverage. But, what didn’t initially receive as much news coverage is that Chertoff issued his own statement on the investigation because Roberts, according to the statement, had asked him:
“to independently review and assess the thoroughness of the investigation into the Dobbs draft opinion leak and to identify any additional useful investigative measures as well as actions that would improve the handling of sensitive documents in the future.”
Why the secrecy?
Both Chertoff and the Supreme Court, according to CNN, are refusing to discuss their relationship. The Supreme Court, according to the outlet, said, “the Court as a matter of policy does not discuss security measures.”
With the current federal disclosure rules in place, the Supreme Court is not required to reveal the details of that relationship.
This leaves us with several questions, including: what might the Supreme Court be hiding? and why Chertoff?