Kendall Harmon–Did Anyone Notice What the Supreme Court Actually Achieved Yesterday?

They kept their decision confidential. Not one leak, Not one semi-sliver of a little detail released prematurely. Lips sealed.

It has a role, and, yes, it can be done–even today. Confidentiality, secrets, limits that should not be breached–these things matter.

Hooray for them–it is one of the reasons there is so much surprise.

Say what you want about the actual decision, but this aspect of its handling deserves real praise–KSH.


Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues

13 comments on “Kendall Harmon–Did Anyone Notice What the Supreme Court Actually Achieved Yesterday?

  1. Capt. Father Warren says:

    [i]but this aspect of its handling deserves real praise–KSH. [/i]

    Really? Just like that? Doesn’t matter how that was achieved? It ipso facto has to be? Despite the fact that Justice Robert’s might have changed his mind at the last possible moment for political reasons?

    Using that logic, TEC should be applauded for many of the things which have come down the pike in the last few years and caught many by surprise……because they were kept so quiet.

    Not a process of logic which I follow…….

  2. SC blu cat lady says:

    So 9 people can keep their decision to themselves until an actual decision is released publicly. Not a huge problem. Just keep your mouth shut and it works. Kendall+ you really need this vacation if you think this is a huge thing to be applauded. This should be the norm behavior. Leaks to the press are NOT the norm (well they should not be). I will give them credit (as in yes, they did not say anything but we SHOULD expect that from these justices) for not blabbing before the release but when you know a decision is going to be made public, keeping quiet is not a big problem. Have other supreme court decisions been let out before the day it was released to the public??

    Enjoy your vacation, Kendall+!! You really need it!

  3. Brian from T19 says:

    A great deal more than 9 people kept the decision to themselves. The entire infrastructure, existing in Washington DC, kept their collective silence. That is something to be applauded.

  4. SC blu cat lady says:

    Umm Brian, If these 9 justices kept their decision to themselves,then please explain how the entire infrastructure kept their collective silence about the decision which you seem to think they must have known about but did not say anything about. Perhaps you are saying that these justices did indeed tell people including the entire infrastructure but no one told anyone else? Maybe. Do you have any proof of your conclusion?

    So what. Now we know. What happens from here on out is crucial. There is a lot in this legislation we don’t know.

  5. David Keller says:

    Holy cow–I agree with Brian. I worked at a state Supreme Court, and there are many, many people who know about decisions, but no one ever blabs. This actually strikes to teh heart of Obama’s ego; that even secrets that will get people killed are leaked for his personal aggrandizement and political advancement. No one would have died if someone had leaked the ACA opinion. Whatever Roberts’ motves, it is an accomplishment to keep it secret up to the last minute. BTW, I keep hearing that he changed his mind at the last second, but that doesn’t make much sense. They vote in conference after oral argument. The vote split at that first vote is used to determine who writes the majority opinion. I suppose someone in the original minority might have deferred to the CJ, if he did change his mind, but that would be very unusual. Also, the losers can petition for re-hearing based on something overlooked by the court; but they can’t consider that until October. It is possible the entire law will still be declared unconstitutional because Roberts did not address the fact that a (now) tax bill did not originate in the House. But that couldn’t conceivably happen before the election. Or more likely they will dismiss any re-hearing petition as moot in January when ACA is repealed.

  6. David Keller says:

    cat lady–All of the Justices have five (I think) law clerks who actually do the research and write the opinions. The Justices simply don’t do the writing. Each Justice has multiple AA’s and secretaries who are privy to what is written. There are also staff attorneys who do mainly criminal cases, but they are often consulted or are at least in the loop about what is happening. There is also a Clerk of Court’s office which gets everything in advance so it can be put out as soon as it is read. It is a much bigger operation than just 9 justices. My guess is probably 75 people or so were privy to the process before the opinion was read.

  7. QohelethDC says:

    Earlier this week, the Express (the Washington Post’s free mini-paper for commuters) had a cover story on how extraordinary it was, in a town as leaky as DC, that the ACA decision remained a secret.

  8. Pb says:

    Since the justices do not have to run every four years, there is no reason to leak sensitive information to the press.

  9. QohelethDC says:


    Good point! That probably does help. 😎

  10. Mark Baddeley says:

    I agree Kendall. Secrecy where secrecy should be the norm (contra Capt Father Warren’s little rant) is a good thing, and it is good the supreme court hasn’t ‘gone the way of all flesh’ in this area.

    Have to profess amusement that Kendall+ gets rebuked for honoring the judges for doing part of their job well, and by someone who seems to think that the justices have absolutely no supporting infrastructure to research and write those decisions.

  11. Boniface says:

    As Christian, we should be very vigilant regarding partisan politics and positions. Passions associated with them can lead to some vey ugly places. Idolatry is our primary weakness.

  12. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    The US Supreme Court appears to be able to do what the US and British governments and for that matter many churches are incapable of doing. It was not always so. Not so long ago the value of your word as your bond and a belief in personal honor meant that you could indeed have quite large groups privy to information without it being disclosed or leaked. But there is an inconsistency when at one moment a government will leak information in advance for its own purposes and then get surprised when people talk out of turn.

  13. Catholic Mom says:

    Personally, I have always lived by Benjamin Franklin’s observation that “two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.” 🙂

    On the other hand, it’s hard for me to believe that a judge who can’t keep a secret (like how he/she is going to rule or sentence) would be in the business long enough to end up on the Supreme Court. Likewise, the various law clerks, etc. I assume want to continue being law clerks, etc. 🙂