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Why don't we know when the abortion Supreme Court decision will be announced?

The Supreme Court doesn't say when specific opinions will be released
Supreme Court
Posted at 3:00 AM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 08:12:47-04

WASHINGTON  — The U.S. continues to wait for the Supreme Court to issue its decision on abortion rights, and many are wondering when that will happen.

In truth, no one in the public really knows because the high court doesn't tell reporters in advance when a case will be decided.

"Some of it is tradition. This is the way the court has always done it," said Carolyn Shapiro, a former Supreme Court law clerk and professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Shapiro said beyond tradition, a bit of secrecy provides some benefits to the high court. It makes organizing a protest outside the Supreme Court more difficult and makes the court less likely to impact the stock market should a case be financial in nature.

What we do know

Logging onto SupremeCourt.gov provides about just as much as Washington reporters know about the Supreme Court schedule. On the homepage, a calendar appears and "yellow days" are days in which opinions will be issued.

The calendar does not provide information regarding what specific opinions will be issued. It just says something will be released involving one of their remaining cases.

The calendar changes frequently and, as of now, this week opinions will be issued on Tuesday and Thursday.

There are 18 cases that need final rulings before the justices depart for their traditional summer break. That usually happens by the end of June or early July. Apart from the abortion decision, which will impact what restrictions states will be able to impose, the Supreme Court will issue controversial opinions on religious freedom and gun rights as well.

It is possible decisions on all of these cases could be issued on the same day, according to Shapiro.

What's happening now?

In regards to the abortion decision, Shapiro suspects it is still being worked on. After all, it's not just the majority opinion that needs to be written. Dissenting opinions must be finished, too.

Ultimately, when an opinion is ready, Chief Justice John Roberts plays a key role in deciding when to announce it. The court does have a history of announcing its most important ruling of the term last.

"I think they are working on things. They are making adjustments," Shapiro said.

While the country continues to wait, outside the Supreme Court security remains heightened with real threats emerging. A 26-year-old was recently charged federally with the attempted murder of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

President Joe Biden recently signed into law enhanced security upgrades for the court, including new protections for the family members of the justices.