|MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press|
After hearing arguments this week, the justices will vote Friday morning on the fate of President
In the weeks after this meeting, individual votes can change as the justices read each other's draft opinions and dissents.
But Friday's vote will be followed by the assignment of a single justice to write a majority opinion, or in a case this complex, perhaps two or more justices will tackle different issues. That's where the hard work begins, with the clock ticking toward the end of the court's session in early summer.
The Friday conference also is not a debate, says
"They say, `This is how I'm going to vote' and give a few sentences," Fitzpatrick said.
It will be the first time the justices gather as a group to discuss the case. Even they do not always know what the others are thinking when they enter the conference room adjacent to Chief Justice
"They generally find out how the votes line up at the conference," said
The uncertainty may be especially pronounced in this case, where the views of Roberts and Kennedy are likely to decide the outcome, Kerr said Thursday. "I don't think anyone knows. I'm not sure
If Roberts is in the majority, he will assign the main opinion, and in a case of this importance, he may well write it himself, several former law clerks said. If Roberts is a dissenter, the senior justice in the majority assigns the opinion.
The court won't issue its ruling in a case until drafts of majority opinions and any dissents have circulated among the justices, changes have been suggested and either accepted or rejected.
"These justices aren't locked in. Minds have changed during the drafting process, and minds have changed after opinions have been circulated," said
No one will know precisely when decisions on particular cases will be coming. Decisions in the biggest cases very often aren't announced until the last day of the term.
The last apparent security breach occurred more than 30 years ago when
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