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News Media: Please Leak Supreme Court Vote

From a dumb-founded Associated Press:

Magnified view, click on image and drag to move.

Justices meet Friday to vote on health care case

March 30,2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — While the rest of us have to wait until June, the justices of the Supreme Court will know the likely outcome of the historic health care case by the time they go home this weekend.

After months of anticipation, thousands of pages of briefs and more than six hours of arguments, the justices will vote on the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul in under an hour Friday morning. They will meet in a wood-paneled conference room on the court’s main floor. No one else will be present.

And never mind that this is exactly how every Supreme Court case has been handled since the Court began to function more than 222 years ago.

As of March 2012, the The United States Reports, which is the official record of the rulings, has published a total of 30,161 Supreme Court opinions, covering the decisions handed down from February, 1790 to March of 2012. But even this figure does not even reflect the total number of cases the Court has taken up, since several cases are frequently addressed by a single opinion.

Still, this is new information for our brilliant journalists. But, then again, the news media is always the last to know even the most basic facts.

In the weeks after this meeting, individual votes can change. Even who wins can change, as the justices read each other’s draft opinions and dissents.

But Friday’s vote, which each justice probably will record and many will keep for posterity, will be followed soon after by the assignment of a single justice to write a majority opinion, or in a case this complex, perhaps two or more justices to tackle different issues

The late William Rehnquist, who was chief justice for nearly 19 years, has written that the court’s conference "is not a bull session in which off-the-cuff reactions are traded." Instead, he said, votes are cast, one by one in order of seniority.

The Friday conference also is not a debate, says Brian Fitzpatrick, a Vanderbilt University law professor who worked for Justice Antonin Scalia 10 years ago. There will be plenty of time for the back-and-forth in dueling opinions that could follow.

"There’s not a whole lot of give and take at the conference. They say, ‘This is how I’m going to vote’ and give a few sentences," Fitzpatrick said…

What a shock. We thought there there would be weeks and weeks of debate. After all, the Court only hears about 75 to 80 cases a year.

No one will know precisely when decisions on particular cases will be coming, until perhaps Roberts ends a court session in late June by announcing the next meeting will be the last until October. Then it’s a safe bet that whatever hasn’t been decided will be on the last day. And decisions in the biggest cases very often aren’t announced until that last day of the term.

Supreme Court opinions rarely find their way to the public before they are read in the marble courtroom, although the court inadvertently posted opinions and orders on its website about a half hour too soon in December.

The last apparent security breach occurred more than 30 years ago when Tim O’Brien, then a reporter for ABC News, informed viewers that the court planned to issue a particular opinion the following day. Chief Justice Warren Burger accused an employee in the printing shop of tipping O’Brien and had the employee transferred to a different job

Not the very strong suggestion that it would be wonderful if some noble person would leak the Court’s decision much sooner. Presumably, so the news media and the rest of the Obama campaign would have more time to use their ruling to Obama’s favor before the elections.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, March 30th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “News Media: Please Leak Supreme Court Vote”

  1. Crapgame13 says:

    Political hacks like Kagan or Ginsburg would never do such a thing.

  2. Rusty Shackleford says:

    To quote Malone, a poster in PJM,

    Justice Scalia asked, “You expect us to read all 2700 pages of this?”

    To which Malone suggested the fictitious addendum: “We’ll have to reject it to find out what’s in it.”

    (This will have me laughing all day or longer)

  3. Rusty Shackleford says:

    “There will be plenty of time for the back-and-forth in dueling opinions that could follow.”, said the (ignorant) Vanderbilt University law professor. As Rush has so eloquently described over the past two days, they don’t engage in actual, verbal debate. They write their opinions down and submit them. So the law professor is full of ignorance.

    • Petronius says:

      Vanderbilt law Prof. Fitzpatrick is a former clerk to Justice Scalia and therefore in position to know the procedure. The “dueling opinions” he refers to are written draft opinions circulated by the justices among themselves for their internal review. Majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions will emerge from this exchange.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Ah, so.

      A little ignorance (on my part) can certainly get some mileage.

      I agree in the understanding that the arguments were to be “paper-based”. I (incorrectly) assumed that the law perfesser was suggesting aural arguments.

      I shall now relegate myself to the punishment of mowing the yard.

  4. CaliforniaCitizen says:

    @Rusty Shackleford…You started off my day with a good laugh! I hope you didn’t cut corners in your self inflicted punishment of yard work!

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Well, unlike a national socialist, when pointed out that I’m incorrect, I will admit it.

      The lawn-mowing got done…drudgery though it was and thanks to the recent rain…it needs to be done again. Fortunately, I can plug in my earbuds and listen to Rush while battling the relentless grass. It also makes me feel quite “green”. Well, my shoes at least….they get all green in the front.

      As for cutting corners, when I do the ride-around mowing, the whole goal is to do just that. It’s a major chore to stop, put it in reverse and get the new swath perfectly on target. Then there’s the “cloverleaf” method where you just leave it in FWD, go past the one swath, and turn right instead of left and you’ll join up right at the correct spot. (see diagram, pg A-42)

      However, my goal is to mow a professional baseball field someday. When seen from the air, or even in the nosebleed section in the stands, they masterfully cut a mosaic in the field that has always interested me. Maybe someday.

      But, as for tomorrow, I must mow again. Rain, sunshine, more rain, more sunshine…what’s up with that?

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