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Credit…Ting Shen for The Recent York Times

Moments after Politico published a draft opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. that might strike down Roe v. Wade, a scoop that rattled the country, the publication’s top editors sent an email to its newsroom.

“After an in depth review process, we’re confident of the authenticity of the draft,” Politico’s editor in chief, Matthew Kaminski, and its executive editor, Dafna Linzer, wrote. “This unprecedented view into the justices’ deliberations is plainly news of great public interest.”

The editors didn’t explain what that review process entailed, or how the lead reporters on the story, Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, had obtained the draft. The article said that the document was provided by “an individual acquainted with the court’s proceedings,” and that the person had provided additional details that helped authenticate the document, but didn’t say what those were.

Mr. Kaminski declined to comment further.

“We’re going to let the story and our staff note speak for themselves,” he said.

News organizations all over the world, including The Recent York Times and The Associated Press, quickly followed Politico’s reporting. In an interview with Mr. Gerstein on “The Rachel Maddow Show” Monday evening, Ms. Maddow told Mr. Gerstein that he would “at all times in your entire life be the reporter that broke this story.”

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court confirmed that the draft opinion was authentic. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in a press release that he had directed the Marshal of the Court to research the leak, which he described as “a singular and egregious breach” of trust.

Although the views of individual justices have occasionally been disclosed publicly before the Supreme Court publicizes a call, the leak of a crucial draft opinion is incredibly rare, said Lucas A. Powe Jr., a professor of law on the University of Texas at Austin, and a former Supreme Court law clerk who has been studying the high court for greater than 50 years.

“Your loyalty is to your justice and to the court, and you simply don’t leak things,” Mr. Powe said of the usual practice amongst employees of the Supreme Court.

Founded in 2007, the Arlington-based news publication Politico has reshaped coverage of Washington over the past 15 years with its granular reporting on all things politics. Urged on by co-founders Jim VandeHei and John Harris to “win the morning,” Politico’s reporters and editors covered Washington high and low, devoting space of their influential email newsletters to presidential campaigns and more trivial details like birthdays of outstanding local figures.

Axel Springer, the Berlin-based publishing conglomerate, bought Politico from its co-founder Robert Allbritton last 12 months for greater than $1 billion, a part of a plan to expand in the US with a portfolio of titles that include Insider and Morning Brew.

This 12 months, Politico announced that Goli Sheikholeslami could be its recent chief executive, replacing Patrick Steel, who left in 2021.


May 3, 2022

A previous version of this text misstated when the previous chief executive of Politico left his post. Patrick Steel left before Politico’s sale to Axel Springer, not after.

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