by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It is a considered statement, intended to convey a message. Members of the Supreme Court rarely speak in such manner in public, and it must be understood that they know that when they do in 2023 they risk everything in terms of their public reputation.
So when Samuel Alito says that he’s pretty sure he knows who the leaker is and that it came from the left — and when you square that with the marshal of the Supreme Court’s curiously squishy language in her final report about not being able to identify the leaker to a “preponderance of the evidence standard” — it would behoove Court observers (regardless of how partisan they are) to understand that nobody in a position such as Alito’s thinks carefully about this, goes out and arranges a newsmaking interview with a friendly venue, and puts not only their own reputation but that of the entire conservative wing of the Court on the line if he’s lying. Samuel Alito is a human being in addition to being a judge; he’s not showing up to work on Monday and looking his fellow justices in the eye if either he’s blustering here or if they think he is. My guess is simple: Everyone on the Court is either biblically or pretty sure who the leaker is. They talk about it. (Think about it! They obviously have talked about it a lot, because it is a matter of internal security, and also they are not robots.)
What that leaves the rest of us with is . . . speculation. I find it unproductive. Theories abound as to the identity of the leaker, all merely based on suspicion and rumor. … Until then we can only observe the horrifying damage it has done to the Supreme Court as an institution.