Ah, leaks from the Supreme Court. And more leaks from the Supreme Court.
Since I've been blogging Watergate 40 years on, I have the strategic use of leaks on my mind quite a bit these days. Where we are right now (that is, two weeks out from the arrests of the Watergate burglars) involves, among other things, the FBI leaking things to the press because acting FBI Director Pat Gray is attempting to stifle the investigation.
The larger point is that leaking is and has always been a key tool in political battles among elites, and anyone reading or watching news reports should at all times be aware that reporters frequently get stories from sources with agendas. That doesn't mean that the sources are peddling lies! For one thing, a reporter who gets burned by a source that way isn't likely to trust that source in the future. For another, a good reporter will confirm the basic facts of leaks or else not push forward with them.
But something can avoid any significant misstatement of fact and still tell only some of the story, and leak-based stories are particularly likely to do so, especially in cases such as national security (or, for that matter, the Supreme Court) in which everyone else might be severely constrained from telling the rest of the story on the record. And of course it's also possible for a source to leak something that's believed by the source and others to be true, but is not actually true.
I'd also distinguish between those leaks intended for general spin and those employed as part of bureaucratic or other elite battles. And that's not all! The current SCOTUS leaks may simply be sour grapes on the part of the losing Court faction, not really intended to accomplish anything but to make the Chief Justice (presumably) look bad, but not to influence him to do anything different. And then there's the possibility of leaks that are intended to win over a beat reporter who might be inclined to give favorable coverage in the future to someone who expects a continued relationship with the reporter.
So what do we make of this series of leaks? I have no idea. What I can say, however, is that they should be read with the possible motives of both the leakers and the press in mind.