Progressives blast Supreme Court over secret payments of at least $1 million to the ex-Bush official who reviewed the leak investigation
- The Supreme Court failed to disclose its past relationship with Michael Chertoff, CNN reported.
- Chertoff, a security consultant, recently reviewed the court's internal leak investigation.
The Supreme Court on Friday came under fire following reports that it failed to disclose its past relationship with a former Homeland Security secretary who reviewed the court's investigation into who leaked the draft ruling that revealed the court was about to overturn abortion rights.
Michael Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush and now runs a security risk management firm, had provided services to the Supreme Court before he was tasked with independently reviewing the leak investigation, which ultimately did not find who the leaker was, CNN reported.
The Supreme Court privately paid at least around $1 million to the Chertoff Group for security assessments related to the justices' safety, involving reviews of their homes and months-long consultations, according to CNN. The firm also assessed COVID-19 practices at the court, CNN reported.
Yet these financial contracts and the court's connection to Chertoff were excluded from the Supreme Court's investigative report released last week, which he signed off on, raising concerns about transparency and the thoroughness of his independent review.
"It feels like every day brings a new story about the Roberts Court's nonexistent relationship with transparency and ethics," Sarah Lipton-Lubet, president of the progressive-leaning Take Back the Court Action Fund, said in a statement on Friday, referring to Chief Justice John Roberts.
Chertoff, in a statement accompanied with the Supreme Court's report, wrote that he was responsible for reviewing the court's probe and identifying "additional useful investigative measures." Though Chertoff, after his assessment, concluded that he couldn't find any.
"Chertoff claims that he couldn't find 'any additional useful investigative measures' to identify the Dobbs leaker. We identified more than a dozen questions worth asking — but then again, we don't have secret contracts with the Court," Lipton-Lubet said. "I guess Chertoff had at least a million reasons not to ask any of those questions. This kind of rot is at the core of this Court, and yet they wonder why the public no longer trusts them."
The hidden payments come as progressive groups, congressional lawmakers, court observers, and ethics advocates demand greater financial transparency at the Supreme Court, which is not required by law to disclose its contracts.
It also comes as the Supreme Court is already under scrutiny for failing to figure out the source last spring's unprecedented leak of the draft ruling in the major case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
—Demand Justice (@WeDemandJustice) January 27, 2023
A spokesperson for Chertoff declined to comment and referred Insider to the Supreme Court's public information office for questions. The office did not immediately return Insider's request for comment.
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