Does the Supreme Court correct factual errors in its opinions after they are published?

Saturday, October 31, 2020
By Christopher Hutton

Supreme Court opinions are carefully drafted and reviewed, but with time pressures, confidentiality needs and complex issues to explain, errors happen. ProPublica found at least seven errors in opinions issued between 2011 and 2015, arising from either the court's own research or "false or deeply flawed submissions" submitted by parties involved in the rulings.

The court lacks a clear policy about publishing corrections. Justices do make revisions to an opinion if a party involved points out an error, as Justice Brett Kavanaugh did after a Vermont official corrected his description of state voting policies in a recent ruling. Such changes are not necessarily publicly announced. The court's media-relations team on occasion alerts reporters to changes. "Much of the Court’s business is veiled in secrecy," one lawyer writes. "The process by which it corrects its errors should not be."

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