In an unprecedented first for journalism, Politico reported on and published a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning decades of precedent that a right to privacy protected the right to have an abortion. Since this bombshell revelation, Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed the authenticity of the draft. He also asked the Marshall of the Supreme Court to investigate the identity of Politico’s source. Some have even called for the FBI to join the investigation. A number of individuals, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), are already publicly advocating that the journalists’ source be criminally prosecuted. Defending Right & Dissent Policy Director Chip Gibbons had the following comment,
Although a number of laws have been abusively interpreted to allow for the prosecution of government employees who give classified national defense information to the media, none of these laws have ever been applied to the source of non-classified information. The Department of Justice’s own guidelines counsel against using the “theft of government property” statute against those who share information with the media and the public. There is simply no criminal statute that plausibly criminalizes sharing with journalists the draft of a Supreme Court opinion. Attempts to conflate giving information to a journalist with treason, insurrection, and incitement to violence are political hot air that expose a deep antipathy for decades of time honored First Amendment principles. Absent a criminal predicate, any investigations by the FBI or DOJ into this matter are deeply inappropriate.