Press Releases

House Republicans Introduce Bill to Make Leaking Draft Supreme Court Opinions a Federal Crime

Rep. Johnson sponsors legislation to make knowingly sharing confidential information from the Supreme Court a crime punishable by a fine or imprisonment

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2022 — 12 Republican Members of Congress led by House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) today introduced legislation to make the act of knowingly leaking draft Supreme Court opinions a federal crime.

“The unauthorized leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health constitutes a grave breach of judicial ethics and a deliberate attack on the independence of the Supreme Court,” Johnson said. “This legislation is now, unfortunately, a necessary step to discourage future such attempts to intimidate justices during their deliberative process and restore independence to the Court so that it can ensure the American people are afforded equal and impartial justice under the law. The institution of the Court has been damaged and we must do what we can to try to repair it.”

“In response to the leaked Dobbs draft opinion, there has been widespread agreement on one thing—it is entirely unclear whether the leaker can face any legal liability. Representative Mike Johnson’s Leaker Accountability Act fixes that problem,” said Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks President. “The bill makes it a crime to knowingly share confidential information from the Supreme Court—punishable by a fine, up to 5 years in prison, or both. It defines confidential information broadly to reach internal notes on cases, communications between Justices on matters pending before the Court, draft opinions, final opinions before they are issued, and any other information the Chief Justice designates as confidential. This bill is a commonsense response to a horrible situation to ensure it never happens again.”

Background on the legislation:

  • The Leaker Accountability Act would make knowingly sharing confidential information from the Supreme Court a crime punishable by a fine or up to 5 years imprisonment.
  • The legislation applies to those who act knowingly, and covers notes, conversations, opinions before they have been released, personal information of Justices, and anything else the Chief Justice designates as confidential.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (NY) and Representatives David McKinley (WV), Mary Miller (IL), Markwayne Mullin (OK), Tom Tiffany (WI), Scott Fitzgerald (WI), Burgess Owens (UT), Dan Bishop (NC), Victoria Spartz (IN), Louie Gohmert (TX), and Bob Good (VA) joined Representative Johnson in sponsoring the legislation.

Congressman Johnson is the Vice Chairman of the House Republican Conference, a member of the House Judiciary and Armed Services Committees, and a former constitutional law litigator.