Questions raised after Supreme Court hid financial ties to expert who validated leak probe
Cheif Justice John Roberts (Photo by Brendan Smialowski for AFP)

Before the release of a report on the investigation into who at the Supreme Court was responsible for leaking the Dobbs draft ruling, that for all intents and appearances gutted Roe v. Wade, an outside expert was brought in to validate its findings and now there are questions about that review.

The report, released last week, revealed that no culprit was discovered after Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation that infuriated the secretive justices who saw it as a breach of trust.

After its release, legal experts raised their eyebrows after it was revealed that Supreme Court clerks and staffers testified under oath but the Justice themselves were subjected to questioning but not asked to sign affidavits that what they stated was true.

CNN is now reporting that an outside agency run by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, with long-term financial ties to the court, did the appraisal raising questions of conflicts of interest.

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Of concern are questions whether Chertoff's firm, which has billed the court over $1 million for various services, may be protecting the very justices who keep sending them business.

According to CNN, "The estimated payments to Chertoff’s risk assessment firm, for consultations that extended over several months and involved a review of the justices’ homes, reached at least $1 million. The exact amount of money paid could not be determined. Supreme Court contracts are not covered by federal public disclosure rules and elude tracking on public databases," adding, "The justices have long cloaked themselves in secrecy to the point of declining to respond to questions about potential conflicts of interest, or to reveal information about some court rules and ethics codes; or to release timely information about the justices’ health and public appearances."

"The court’s decision to keep secret the prior arrangements with Chertoff, whose professional path has intersected over the years with Chief Justice John Roberts and other court conservatives, as it used him for a seal of approval, adds to controversy over the leak investigation itself," CNN's Joan Biskupic wrote.

Sean Moulton, a senior policy analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, claimed that should raise a red flag.

“It’s at least a valid question why they went to someone who had a relationship with the court. Can we be sure he is objective? That’s part of the reason for disclosures,” Moulton explained before adding, "I think it’s a mistake to treat the judicial branch differently when it comes to these disclosures. They are stewards of public funds and owe some accountability for how they use these funds.”