Supreme Court accidentally publishes ruling


Lerato Khumalo

One click too many: The Supreme Court inadvertently posted a sensitive document about a current abortion case online.

The US Supreme Court accidentally published a supposed decision on an abortion case – and then quickly deleted it from its website.

The responsible department uploaded a document “accidentally and at short notice,” said Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe. McCabe stressed that the ruling in the case had not yet been published and would be published “in due course.” The court’s statement did not say whether the document was the ruling. According to media reports, however, the document clearly stated that the court wanted to allow abortions in Idaho in medical emergencies.

The case concerns the legality of a strict abortion ban in the conservative state. In Idaho, abortions are only permitted in a few exceptional cases, such as when the life of the mother – but not her health – is in danger.

However, the administration of US President Joe Biden believes that emergency rooms are required to perform abortions in medical emergencies. It has therefore filed a lawsuit against the law. The hearing on the case took place in April. The Supreme Court is currently publishing the decisions on the cases heard during this session at regular intervals.

The fact that the Supreme Court has made such a mistake in an abortion case is reminiscent of the leak about two years ago. At that time, the magazine “Politico” published a confidential draft of the court’s reasoning, according to which the Supreme Court wanted to overturn its landmark ruling on abortion from 1973.

The court had confirmed the authenticity of the document, but emphasized that it was not the final decision. In the end, that’s exactly what happened: In June 2022, the court abolished the right to abortion in the United States.