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Supreme Court Leak A Good Or Bad Thing? (1 Viewer)

Regardless of the case, is leaking Supreme Court opinion documents a good thing or a bad thing?


  • Total voters
    86

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
Sorry if honda.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was unable to say if the leak of the recent opinion impacting Roe v Wade from the Supreme Court was a good or bad thing. I wondered how other folks thought. And about leaks in general, regardless of the case.

https://washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/05/16/ketanji-brown-jackson-interview/

Q: What was your response when you when you saw the draft leak [of a Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade]?

A: Everybody who is familiar with the court and the way in which it works was shocked by that. Such a departure from normal order.

Q: Do you think it was a good thing or a bad thing?

A: I can’t answer that.

Q: What do you think about peaceful protests outside of Supreme Court justices’ homes?

A: I don’t have any comment.



 

dutch

Footballguy
On a personal micro scale I think it is or should be career suicide and let whomever did it be an example for future leakers. I personally don't see the value of leaking the ruling as it isn't likely to change the vote even if text gets edited so in that regard it shows me someone who is ill equipped to reason rationally.  

 

Stoneworker

Footballguy
The sanctity of an institutional pillar of the U.S. government has been compromised. Putting at risk the procedural integrity of not just one, but perhaps many, judicial outcomes.

And that's merely a "departure from normal order?" That she has no answer whether is good or bad for future cases she works on?

What horrific answers for a supposedly elite and impartial judicial representative.

 
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John123

Footballguy
We should rethink the new SC justice just for her answers to these questions. 

 
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Juxtatarot

Footballguy
If this leads to the Supreme Court being more careful with their documents, I could see it as a good thing long term. I suspect that’s not really what is being asked, though, so I voted probably not.

Overall, though, I totally understand why a justice wouldn’t answer the question. All the facts haven’t been presented and it’s not a legal question.

 

dutch

Footballguy
If this leads to the Supreme Court being more careful with their documents, I could see it as a good thing long term. I suspect that’s not really what is being asked, though, so I voted probably not.

Overall, though, I totally understand why a justice wouldn’t answer the question. All the facts haven’t been presented and it’s not a legal question.
Yeah, that's where I came down too. Brown Jackson's answers strike me as her staying apolitical and not wanting to wade into the mess.

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
We should rethink the new SC justice just for her answers to these questions. 
Are you saying you supported her up until she made those comments?

Anyway, you are free to "rethink" all you want. She has been confirmed to a lifetime appointment and, short of a House majority and Senate supermajority, no one can do anything about it, no more than we can do anything about Thomas or Kavanaugh or any of the other Justices.

FWIW, I read that quote as her basically saying she wasn't going to get into that issue. She doesn't have to comment on anything she doesn't want to (see preceding paragraph). Maybe she doesn't want to make any waves before she starts her new job. Maybe she's waiting to find out more details about the leak. Or maybe she genuinely doesn't have a strong opinion on the matter.

 

The General

Footballguy
Are you saying you supported her up until she made those comments?

Anyway, you are free to "rethink" all you want. She has been confirmed to a lifetime appointment and, short of a House majority and Senate supermajority, no one can do anything about it, no more than we can do anything about Thomas or Kavanaugh or any of the other Justices.

FWIW, I read that quote as her basically saying she wasn't going to get into that issue. She doesn't have to comment on anything she doesn't want to (see preceding paragraph). Maybe she doesn't want to make any waves before she starts her new job. Maybe she's waiting to find out more details about the leak. Or maybe she genuinely doesn't have a strong opinion on the matter.
I'll go with all this.

 

Stoneworker

Footballguy
Yeah, that's where I came down too. Brown Jackson's answers strike me as her staying apolitical and not wanting to wade into the mess.
There is exactly is nothing political about having a judicial institution that has integrity in its process. Nothing.

Her answers should have been emphatic and unequivocal condemnations of the leak.

 

JIslander

Footballguy
There is exactly is nothing political about having a judicial institution that has integrity in its process. Nothing.

Her answers should have been emphatic and unequivocal condemnations of the leak.
Right, she's staying apolitcal, which is exactly why she should stay out of it - cause as soon as she does, it gets political -

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
There is exactly is nothing political about having a judicial institution that has integrity in its process. Nothing.

Her answers should have been emphatic and unequivocal condemnations of the leak.
Yeah, and Clarence Thomas should emphatically divorce his wife for being pro-insurrection, but like I said, neither he nor KBJ has to listen to what anyone else says 

 

Stoneworker

Footballguy
Tell Ginny Thomas that --
Yeah, and Clarence Thomas should emphatically divorce his wife for being pro-insurrection, but like I said, neither he nor KBJ has to listen to what anyone else says 
Complete and total non sequiturs as it relates to SC leaks and confidentiality.

Unless you have something substantive that is actually on topic, please don't reply any more to my posts.

 

lakerstan

Footballguy
Leaks from SCOTUS are not good, in general.  But there is a part of me that thinks this may have “softened the blow” rather than states/lobbyists/women being blind-sided by this decision, if that is indeed the decision.  Now there is time to absorb, think, discuss, plan and act.

Like someone dying of a prolonged illness versus a sudden, unexpected death.  Neither is fun, but time is a precious commodity.

 

IvanKaramazov

Footballguy
I really feel like a SCOTUS justice should have strong, unequivocal opinions about leaks and other breaches of confidentiality.  I saw an anecdote about Scalia circulating last week or so -- can't vouch for it's authenticity of course, but it was along the lines of him telling his new clerks that he would make it his personal business to ruin their careers if they betrayed the court's confidence.  I imagine that sort of messaging is par for the course with these folks.  

On one hand, I'm inclined to cut Jackson a lot of slack since she's brand new and probably doesn't want to have to deal with this.  On the other hand, she's a big girl and she's risen to the very top of her career ladder, so maybe let's act accordingly.  

Leaking draft opinions isn't a political issue.  No idea why some of you are going that route.  Without knowing much about Jackson, I'd be willing to bet that she doesn't view it that way herself.  

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
I really feel like a SCOTUS justice should have strong, unequivocal opinions about leaks and other breaches of confidentiality.  I saw an anecdote about Scalia circulating last week or so -- can't vouch for it's authenticity of course, but it was along the lines of him telling his new clerks that he would make it his personal business to ruin their careers if they betrayed the court's confidence.  I imagine that sort of messaging is par for the course with these folks.  

On one hand, I'm inclined to cut Jackson a lot of slack since she's brand new and probably doesn't want to have to deal with this.  On the other hand, she's a big girl and she's risen to the very top of her career ladder, so maybe let's act accordingly.  

Leaking draft opinions isn't a political issue.  No idea why some of you are going that route.  Without knowing much about Jackson, I'd be willing to bet that she doesn't view it that way herself.  
We don’t know what opinions she has. We just know that she declined to discuss them publicly

 

IvanKaramazov

Footballguy
Leaking draft opinions isn't a political issue.  No idea why some of you are going that route.  
Sorry for quoting myself, but it's important to add that we know with 100% certainty that some conservative clerks are leaking information to the press about the court's internal deliberations.  We know that because the articles containing those leaks have stated plainly where those leaks came from.  I would hope and expect that every conservative justice is reading their clerks the riot act over this issue.  It would lower my opinion of any justice who isn't doing so.  

Alito (for example) can't help it if one his clerks is talking to the media.  But he can at least put the fear of God into them and follow through with a career death penalty for any of his clerks who are found to be leaking.  I absolutely expect that.  

 

JIslander

Footballguy
Sorry for quoting myself, but it's important to add that we know with 100% certainty that some conservative clerks are leaking information to the press about the court's internal deliberations.  We know that because the articles containing those leaks have stated plainly where those leaks came from.  I would hope and expect that every conservative justice is reading their clerks the riot act over this issue.  It would lower my opinion of any justice who isn't doing so.  

Alito (for example) can't help it if one his clerks is talking to the media.  But he can at least put the fear of God into them and follow through with a career death penalty for any of his clerks who are found to be leaking.  I absolutely expect that.  
Wait -apologies, did I miss news the RvW leak was from the conservative side or are you talking about things subsequent?

 

IvanKaramazov

Footballguy
Wait -apologies, did I miss news the RvW leak was from the conservative side or are you talking about things subsequent?
No, I'm talking about other stuff.  I don't remember whether I'm thinking of WSJ, Politico, WashPo, or some combination of those, but I've seen at least one story that openly credits "a source close to the conservative wing of the court" (or something like that) as a source.  

I don't think we have any further idea who leaked the Alito opinion.  

 

Rich Conway

Footballguy
No, I'm talking about other stuff.  I don't remember whether I'm thinking of WSJ, Politico, WashPo, or some combination of those, but I've seen at least one story that openly credits "a source close to the conservative wing of the court" (or something like that) as a source.  

I don't think we have any further idea who leaked the Alito opinion.  
That's what I remember reading too.  To your previous post, it doesn't specify "clerk".  Hell, Ginni Thomas would fit that description perfectly.

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
No, I'm talking about other stuff.  I don't remember whether I'm thinking of WSJ, Politico, WashPo, or some combination of those, but I've seen at least one story that openly credits "a source close to the conservative wing of the court" (or something like that) as a source.  

I don't think we have any further idea who leaked the Alito opinion.  
Yes, plus a week before the draft leaked there was a WSJ editorial that clearly seemed to have been informed by a conservative leak. IMO the fact that all the known leaks have been from conservatives suggests that the draft also came from that side, but you’re right that we don’t have any solid evidence either way (and I don’t think it matters all that much anyway). We also don’t have any evidence that it came from clerks, Justices or the guy in the copy room.

 
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IvanKaramazov

Footballguy
That's what I remember reading too.  To your previous post, it doesn't specify "clerk".  Hell, Ginni Thomas would fit that description perfectly.
Good point.

I'm just saying that we know for sure that at least some leaks are coming from somewhere in the orbit of the conservative wing of the court, and I would be very disappointed in any justice who doesn't take that seriously even if they're on my side.  This isn't political at all.  There should be a bipartisan agreement that SCOTUS leaks are bad, period.

 

parasaurolophus

Footballguy
No, I'm talking about other stuff.  I don't remember whether I'm thinking of WSJ, Politico, WashPo, or some combination of those, but I've seen at least one story that openly credits "a source close to the conservative wing of the court" (or something like that) as a source.  

I don't think we have any further idea who leaked the Alito opinion.  
We know that source close to the court could be waldo standing near the court. 

Not even joking. We have seen them lie about their sources. 

 

Rich Conway

Footballguy
Good point.

I'm just saying that we know for sure that at least some leaks are coming from somewhere in the orbit of the conservative wing of the court, and I would be very disappointed in any justice who doesn't take that seriously even if they're on my side.  This isn't political at all.  There should be a bipartisan agreement that SCOTUS leaks are bad, period.
I'm with you on all this.  I'm not going to castigate any justice, on either side, though, for an answer that amounts to "I don't want to get into it.". For all I know, Roberts has already discovered the source(s) and asked the others to shut up about it.

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
We know that source close to the court could be waldo standing near the court. 

Not even joking. We have seen them lie about their sources. 
I mean, even if you think reporters lie about their sources, in this case we know that whoever the source was, they had access to Alito’s draft. Hard to imagine that person wasn’t “close to the Court”.

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
Sigh...

Ivan is talking about subsequent stories. 
In any event, I know lots of people just assume reporters make up sources all the time, but I suspect it happens a lot less often than you'd think. Most reporters I've known take stuff like that super seriously, way more seriously than an average person would. My first job out of college was in the production department for a small newspaper. One time I suggested that, if we flipped a photo to its mirror image, it would flow better with the way the text was laid out on the page (the article was a puff piece in the Weekend section of the paper, not some hard-hitting news story). My boss was deeply offended and said that would violate our trust with the readers that what we were presenting was true. That's the kind of attitude I've always encountered among reporters, especially the types who end up at places like Politico or the Washington Post.

So if your hypothesis is that the Politico reporter heard some gossip and tried to pass it off to "sources close to the Court", I think that's highly unlikely.

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
You don't get to not discuss this sort of stuff publicly.  This isn't some hypothetical about how you would rule in some imaginary or actual case.  It's about the day to day operation of your institution and how you think it should operate.  
Well, first of all, she's not officially on the Court yet, which for all we know is the reason she doesn't want to comment. Second, as I keep saying, Justices get to do whatever the hell they want. AFAIK, the only Justices who have commented publicly on the leak are Roberts (who I agree does have some level of institutional responsibility) and Thomas (in this weekend's Times interview). It's possible others have and I missed it. 

By design, Justices are insulated from having any public responsibilities outside of their day-to-day jobs. You're free to say that KBJ should publicly comment on the leak, but she's free to ignore you without consequence. 

I also think that most of the criticism of her in this thread is coming from people who clearly didn't support her confirmation and are looking for reasons to go after her. (That's not directed at you; I honestly have no idea what you think of her.) 

 

parasaurolophus

Footballguy
In any event, I know lots of people just assume reporters make up sources all the time, but I suspect it happens a lot less often than you'd think. Most reporters I've known take stuff like that super seriously, way more seriously than an average person would. My first job out of college was in the production department for a small newspaper. One time I suggested that, if we flipped a photo to its mirror image, it would flow better with the way the text was laid out on the page (the article was a puff piece in the Weekend section of the paper, not some hard-hitting news story). My boss was deeply offended and said that would violate our trust with the readers that what we were presenting was true. That's the kind of attitude I've always encountered among reporters, especially the types who end up at places like Politico or the Washington Post.

So if your hypothesis is that the Politico reporter heard some gossip and tried to pass it off to "sources close to the Court", I think that's highly unlikely.
I assume you had that job before 2016 when the press broke. 

Dont believe me? Miles taylor says hi. 

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
Complete and total non sequiturs as it relates to SC leaks and confidentiality.

Unless you have something substantive that is actually on topic, please don't reply any more to my posts.
So making demands of people over whom you have no authority is kinda your "thing", huh?

You are free to put me on ignore. You are also free, if you feel my responses to you cross the line into harassment, to report me to the moderators. But you can't tell anyone who they can and can't reply to. (Well, I suppose you can, but they are free to treat your demand the same way KBJ would treat your demand that she must tell us her opinion of the leak).

Finally, I resent your use of the word "non sequitir". I thought my analogy was pretty obvious, and it's not my fault that you couldn't understand it. I hereby demand that you edit your post to remove that word.

 

Joe Mammy

Footballguy
With Trump's appointments and Clarence Thomas/Ginny the SCOTUS needs to be dismantled or overstacked. Duh!

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
I assume you had that job before 2016 when the press broke. 

Dont believe me? Miles taylor says hi. 
Not sure how Taylor's situation is relevant here. Was there ever an accusation that the Times lied about who he was when they published his op-ed? IIRC the issue was the opposite; he lied to CNN about the fact that he was the source.

 

John123

Footballguy
Leaks from SCOTUS are not good, in general.  But there is a part of me that thinks this may have “softened the blow” rather than states/lobbyists/women being blind-sided by this decision, if that is indeed the decision.  Now there is time to absorb, think, discuss, plan and act.

Like someone dying of a prolonged illness versus a sudden, unexpected death.  Neither is fun, but time is a precious commodity.


That's fine, and it may help a little with THIS decision.  But it hurts the court in the long run.  We have enough loss of faith in many of our government institutions.  We don't need more.  The harm this does long term far outweighs any short term benefit it offers for this one decision.

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
That's fine, and it may help a little with THIS decision.  But it hurts the court in the long run.  We have enough loss of faith in many of our government institutions.  We don't need more.  The harm this does long term far outweighs any short term benefit it offers for this one decision.
I agree. I've said from the beginning I had no idea how the leak would impact this decision, but I suspected the answer would be not much. But long term, airing the Court's dirty laundry will lower respect for it and weaken it institutionally.

As with most norms, though, this is more an escalation of an ongoing trend than a sudden break. There have been Court leaks for decades (check out The Brethren) and other factors, including the politicization of the nomination process and the increase in partisan ideologues on the Court, all contributed to what happened with this leak. Nor do I suspect the trend to suddenly reverse itself. The more the Court is seen as a political actor, the more likely we are to see the same kind of motivated leaks we see in other, more political, branches

 

The Commish

Footballguy
I can't think of a more rhetorical question than if this is "good" or "bad" for the court.  Are to believe there are justices that think it's "good"?  I don't.  Not a single one.  I'm so confident in that, that I'd never even consider asking them.  I'd feel incredibly comfortable in the assumption that the answer is "yes".  

WTF has happened to this country?  We've lost our collective mind.

 

BladeRunner

Footballguy
The sanctity of an institutional pillar of the U.S. government has been compromised. Putting at risk the procedural integrity of not just one, but perhaps many, judicial outcomes.

And that's merely a "departure from normal order?" That she has no answer whether is good or bad for future cases she works on?

What horrific answers for a supposedly elite and impartial judicial representative.


To be fair, she also didn't know what a woman was so I don't expect her to know the difference between right and wrong either.

 
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Chaz McNulty

Footballguy
The sanctity of an institutional pillar of the U.S. government has been compromised. Putting at risk the procedural integrity of not just one, but perhaps many, judicial outcomes.

And that's merely a "departure from normal order?" That she has no answer whether is good or bad for future cases she works on?

What horrific answers for a supposedly elite and impartial judicial representative.
Do you think this is worse than the January 6th insurrection?

 

parasaurolophus

Footballguy
I was watching the theranos show with amanda seyfried. They showed the painstaking process that the wsj went through before they could run that story. Multiple quotes, emails, people on background, etc. 

Made me chuckle since so many places now wouldnt hesitate to run stories with one unvetted anonymous source. 

 

dutch

Footballguy
The sanctity of an institutional pillar of the U.S. government has been compromised. Putting at risk the procedural integrity of not just one, but perhaps many, judicial outcomes.

And that's merely a "departure from normal order?" That she has no answer whether is good or bad for future cases she works on?

What horrific answers for a supposedly elite and impartial judicial representative.
This is an interesting tangent. How elite and impartial are the SCJs? We know there are voting blocs and we have on record some justices discussing their ideological thoughts so whats the litmus test for impartiality? Elections have their consequences and most modern Presidents take advantage of that fact when choosing a SCJ. It's exactly one of the hot button issues for some voters so candidates play up to that to rally the votes. Never thought this was a state secret.

 
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parasaurolophus

Footballguy
Not sure how Taylor's situation is relevant here. Was there ever an accusation that the Times lied about who he was when they published his op-ed? IIRC the issue was the opposite; he lied to CNN about the fact that he was the source.
Yes. They lied. They said it was a senior white house official. 

 The editor said he was in the “upper echelon” of the administration."

He was just a low level advisor when the op ed was printed. He later became deputy chief of staff for dhs, and upon reveal that is often how he is titled. But that is just smokescreen. 

 

whoknew

Footballguy
I don't doubt it hurts discussion and things internally inside the court.

As for in the public, I don't get the argument at all that it hurts the public perception or faith in the court. What difference does disclosing a draft of the opinion make to the public? 

 

Stoneworker

Footballguy
This is an interesting tangent. How elite and impartial are the SCJs? We know there are voting blocs and we have on record some justices discussing their ideological thoughts so whats the litmus test for impartiality? Elections have there consequences and most modern Presidents take advantage of that fact when choosing a SCJ. It's exactly one of the hot button issues for some voters so candidates play up to that to rally the votes. Never thought this was a state secret.
Never thought it was a state secret that the judicial oath contains a pledge of impartiality. But if you want to question an SC judge's veracity under oath, then I can't help you.

“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/oath/oathsofoffice.aspx

 

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