A leaked draft opinion from the United States Supreme Court shows that Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion case of 1973, might be overturned in coming weeks.
A press release from the US Supreme Court makes clear that draft opinions are routinely circulated between justices as part of their deliberative work and that this is not a final decision or change in the law.
Justices circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the Court's confidential deliberative work... Although the document described in yesterday's reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case. (Supreme Court Press Release)
The press release also confirms that the leak is authentic.
National Public Radio (NPR) recently outlined the process in which the highest court in the nation makes use of draft opinions.
- Oral arguments.
- Likely private discussions between Supreme Court justices and their law clerks to weigh the issue and consider various perspectives.
- A private conference among the Supreme Court justices where they decide the case.
- The seniormost justice for each side then writes, or assigns another justice to write, the majority and minority opinions.
This is where the draft opinions come in, as the law website SCOTUSblog explains. The assigned justices draft and circulate opinions outlining their decision and their reasoning... There's always a chance that the draft opinion doesn't end up looking similar to the final opinion, NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg told Morning Edition, noting that this has happened numerous times. A majority of justices must "sign onto" the court's opinion before it can be delivered publicly, according to the U.S. Courts website. (Rachel Treisman, NPR)