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Supreme Court confirms internal origin of leaked document while Chief Justice Roberts decries breach

Updated: Mar 3, 2023


The draft legal opinion purportedly authored by Justice Samuel Alito leaked by Politico has been confirmed to originate within the Supreme Court - but the Court stressed that the document by no means represents a final decision and Chief Justice John Roberts warned that the leak may represent an attempt to disrupt the Court’s deliberations

As reported by CNN, the Supreme Court confirmed in a statement issued today that the document leaked to Politico yesterday - purported to be a draft opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito - did indeed originate from the Supreme Court building. The Court stressed, however, that the document "does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case." A draft opinion does not guarantee that the legal reasoning it contains, nor even the decision it represents, will be the final opinion of the Court. The contents of the document can change substantially before that occurs, and the existence of a draft opinion does not necessarily imply that the justices have reached a final decision. It is not unheard of for a draft opinion to be prepared as a means of persuading undecided votes. All of this means, as Chief Justice John Roberts emphasized in a statement today, that the publication of this document can be interpreted as an attempt to "undermine the integrity of [the Supreme Court's] operations." There are a number of reasons such a document might have been prepared - whether as an exercise in research on the part of a clerk, an attempt to create consensus among the justices, or otherwise - and the fact that the document has been confirmed to be an internal Court document goes no further than that, at least for the time being. As we have noted elsewhere, the Lex Rex Institute will not be engaging in any legal analysis of this document. To do so, we feel, would be journalistically irresponsible and potentially detrimental to the functioning of the American justice system. The Court's decisions ought not to be subject in such a premature and reckless manner to the court of public opinion.

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