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THIS WEEK: Finding the SCOTUS leak as the abortion debate rages

Could it be one of the Justices themselves?

Crews erected taller fencing around the U.S. Supreme Court building to give better protection in the fallout of the leaked abortion rights opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito.

Abortion rights has been a political barbed wire for decades.

That wire has now been electrified.

"The court really relies more than any other on the perception of the public that it's doing something other than politics. And this doesn't look like something other than politics," Rachel Barkow, vice dean of NYU Law School and a former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, told ABC News

The U.S. Supreme Court has been rocked not only by its apparent decision to overturn precedent and take away national protections for abortion rights but by the way the American public found out: through leaked documents confirmed to be the first draft of the majority decision written by Justice Samuel Alito.

"It is something that has broken all norms of conduct for the Supreme Court," said Dr. Richard Hardy, Western Illinois University Political Science professor who teaches courses in Constitutional Law and the Supreme Court.

"Given the seriousness and the contentiousness of this decision on abortion, it has magnified it many times over and they have to get to the bottom of it," Dr. Hardy said on "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens".

You can listen to our entire interview with Dr. Richard Hardy on THE CITIES PODCAST.

Chief justice John Roberts has tasked the Supreme Court Marshal to conduct a full investigation.

Dr. Hardy said it could be one of the four law clerks who are paired with each justice.

And if it's a Justice who leaked it, he says it's an impeachable offense.

"Some are praising this person as a 'Profiles in Courage' while others are saying you just violated the most sacred trust that anyone could have in our system is to violate the trust of the Supreme Court."

ABC News reports independent law enforcement analysts suggested investigators were likely to consider the possibility of a computer hack or computer carelessness, such as leaving a sensitive system unattended, but that the primary theory would likely be a deliberate act.

The report further considers possible suspects in the leak to include each of the nine justices; roughly 30 administrative staff who work behind the scenes in the justices' private chambers; and, the 37 law clerks who do research and writing of draft opinions.

"It certainly has rocked (the Court) unlike I've ever seen before," said Dr. Hardy.

You can watch "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.

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