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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Supreme Court Modifies Decision Reports After Publication

For John, BLUFEven the deceased get to have a bit of a do over, n'est pas?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Gee, I wish I could do this at home.  Modify what I previously said so that I hadn't actually said it.  That would solve so many problems.

This is the blog post from Law Professor Ann Althouse on the article by Adam Liptak in The New York Times, "Final Word on U.S. Law Isn’t:  Supreme Court Keeps Editing".

It is based upon a draft "Harvard Law Review" article to be published in December, but available in draft form on line today.  Sort of like what happens with US Supreme Court decisions.

Actually, it isn't for ever.  That said, the Supreme Court finally issued the final decisions for 2008 in 2013.  Five years to edit the documents into their final form.  Not a standard of efficiency or effectiveness.  Here are the generations of opinions, per the article:

There are four generations of opinions, and only the last is said to be final. So-called bench opinions, in booklet form, are available at the court when decisions are announced.  Slip opinions are posted on the court’s website soon after.  They are followed by preliminary softcover prints and then by the only official versions, which are published in hardcover volumes called United States Reports.  The official versions of opinions from 2008 were published in 2013.
The article does indicate this is a bi-partisan method of doing business and has a long history:
The court seems to have been even more freewheeling in the past.  Chief Justice Roger B. Taney added approximately 18 pages to his 1857 majority opinion in the Dred Scott decision after it was announced.
I was outraged when I first read this, and then I remember that Senators and Representatives seek permission from their bodies to "revise and extend" their remarks.  Maybe the only place this privilege is missing is in the kitchen, when I am talking to my wife.

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

Neal said...

Allow me to "revise and extend" your closing comment. That privilege exists in the kitchen today, but only for the female of the household and wisdom dictates that one not litigate changes to a previous dialogue.