The Supreme Court did not disclose its longstanding financial ties with former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff even as it touted him as an expert who independently validated its investigation into who leaked the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
The court’s inquiry, released last week with Chertoff’s endorsement, failed to identify who was responsible for the unprecedented leak. The decision to keep the relationship with Chertoff quiet is a reflection of a pattern of opacity at the nation’s highest court, whose rulings affect every American.
CNN has learned from sources familiar with the arrangements that the court in recent years has privately contracted with The Chertoff Group for security assessments, some broadly covering justices’ safety and some specifically related to Covid-19 protocols at the court itself.
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.
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. [Continue reading…]