Comparing The Draft and Final Opinions in Dobbs

The official opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health was released this morning.  According to Jake Truscott it was the third-longest Supreme Court opinion since 1946 and the longest of this term by over 10,000 words (the second-longest so far was the NY Rifle opinion released two days prior).  When Politico released the draft opinion on May 2nd, most people were aware that in all likelihood the justices’ votes were already locked in. The only unfinished business at that point was the completion and circulation of separate opinions.

Many were interested in whether Alito’s final opinion would differ from the draft leaked by Politico.  People speculated that the leak of the draft might expose flaws in the draft’s approach or in critical language that might be dampened in the final version.  Members of the media and the public opined that the draft leaker potentially did so with the intention of either persuading justices to shift their votes, or at least to change the opinion language. At least with respect to the majority opinion language, that was all for naught.

Now that we have the final draft we can make this comparison. The side-by-side comparison below, made possible by WCopyfind, presents the text from the final Dobbs opinion on the left and the May 2nd draft on the right.  The text in red is shared language between both drafts and the text in black is unique writing to one draft or the other.

Most of the unique language in the initial draft relates to citations that were removed in the final draft. The bulk of the differences in the final draft relate to responses to both the dissent and concurrences.

Now that the opinion is released, much of the country will have to take stock of the changed face of reproductive rights. Many will spend time wading through the over 35,000 word final opinion to make sense of the repercussions and what it might mean for future Supreme Court cases. Here is the comparison of the leaked draft and final opinions in Dobbs.

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