[A]side from announcing the abstract proposition that revisions are possible, the court almost never notes when a change has been made, much less specifies what it was. And many changes do not seem merely typographical or formal.This prominent article should force the Supreme Court to make these "change pages" publicly available. To privilege a few commercial publishers is especially shameful.
Four legal publishers are granted access to “change pages” that show all revisions. Those documents are not made public, and the court refused to provide copies to The New York Times.
The final and authoritative versions of decisions, some published five years after they were announced, do not, moreover, always fully supplant the original ones. Otherwise reliable Internet resources and even the court’s own website at times still post older versions....
A sentence in a 2003 concurrence from Justice O’Connor in a gay rights decision, Lawrence v. Texas, has been deleted from the official record. She had said Justice Scalia “apparently agrees” that a Texas law making gay sex a crime could not be reconciled with the court’s equal protection principles.
Lower court judges debated the statement, and law professors used it in teaching the case. The statement continues to appear in Internet archives like Findlaw and Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.
It's interesting that the Court feels free to change opinions in significant ways. Perhaps those of us who comment on new cases should focus quite intensely on getting particular sentences or arguments rewritten. We should regard the new cases as a proposed draft and keep litigating. As Russ Feingold once said: "This game's not over until we win."
IN THE COMMENTS: KLDAVIS said:
You don't need access to the change pages, just a copy of Adobe Acrobat.So places like Findlaw and Legal Information Institute should be doing this routinely. Maybe someone could do a blog that calls attention to interesting things like this. I suspect most of it is really boring.
1) Open slip opinion PDF.
2) Open final opinion PDF.
3) Run the file compare tool.
4) Obtain report of character for character differences between the two files.