Josh Gerstein is one of two Politico reporters who published the leaked draft opinion of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to overturn Roe V. Wade. Gerstein and Alexander Ward wrote the exclusive on the leak.
Gerstein is the Senior Legal Affairs Reporter at Politico. He spent the hours after the draft was published speaking to other reporters and analyzing the leak, which he described as “highly unusual.”
You can read the initial draft opinion here. The 98-page leak indicates the Supreme Court voted to strike down Roe V. Wade, with conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett siding with the majority opinion.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gerstein Wrote That the Leak of a Supreme Court Draft Opinion Is ‘Highly Unusual’ & Analyzed the Implications
Gerstein wrote an article following the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion in the hours after the leak.
“The disclosure of a draft opinion in a Supreme Court case is a highly unusual occurrence,” he wrote. “Supreme Court historians, former law clerks and other court watchers say they cannot recall a previous instance before Monday’s publication of a draft opinion in the Mississippi abortion rights case. However, in a handful of cases, hints about deliberations have slipped out publicly, including in Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion-rights precedent that the justices now appear to be on the verge of abandoning.”
He reported on several times where the Court’s confidentiality was breached, but previous leaks do not typically rise to the magnitude of the leak of Alito’s first draft May 2, 2022, he wrote.
“Despite the general tendency towards secrecy, on rare occasions a justice publicly drops a hint at or offers an unexpected preview of the outcome of a case,” Gerstein wrote.
2. Gerstein Joined Politico as a White House Reporter in 2009 Shortly Before President Barack Obama’s Inauguration
Gerstein has worked for Politico for nearly 12 years, according to his LinkedIn page, and took a job with the outlet shortly before President Barack Obama’s inauguration, his Politico profile says.
“Just before President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, Gerstein joined POLITICO as a White House reporter, returning to a beat he covered as a White House correspondent for ABC News. At ABC, he reported on President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and President George W. Bush’s response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,” his Politico profile says.
Gerstein is also “an expert on the Freedom of Information Act,” his profile says. He has pursued several cases regarding leaks of classified information and sought details on the allegations of abuse of prisoners held at Guantanamo, the profile says.
“Gerstein also reports on the Justice Department and legal controversies, including Supreme Court showdowns over same-sex marriage and Obamacare, all of the recent Supreme Court nominations, criminal justice reform and battles over executive privilege,” his profile says.
3. Gerstein Began His Career With the CNN Investigative Unit in 1991
Gerstein began his journalism career in 1991 when he joined CNN’s Special Assignment Unit as a researcher and associate producer, according to his LinkedIn page. He stayed with CNN for about three years, and then joined ABC as an investigative reporter and producer in 1995, his profile says. The majority of his career was spent in Washington, DC.
Gerstein held several positions with ABC, where he worked for about eight years, his profile says. He covered Senator Bob Dole’s presidential campaign “from start to finish” as a presidential campaign reporter, he wrote on his LinkedIn page. He then took on a role as a White House reporter for about two years, followed by another two years as a White House correspondent.
He worked in Beijing for about 1 1/2 years as a correspondent for ABC. His Politico profile says that as a Beijing correspondent, he was “reporting from the deserted streets of China’s capital during the SARS crisis, on threats to U.S. diplomats in Pakistan and from Afghanistan on the families of Guantanamo prisoners.”
He then spent almost five years working for the New York Sun based in the San Francisco Bay Area, his LinkedIn page says.
“From 2003 to 2008, Gerstein was based in northern California as a national reporter for the New York Sun, covering such stories as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s unorthodox gubernatorial bid and the ins and outs of two presidential elections,” his Politico profile says.
4. Gerstein Graduated From Harvard With a Bachelor’s Degree in Government & His Parents Worked in the Medical Field
Gerstein graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in government, according to his Politico profile. He is from Weston, Massachusetts, the son of Barbara Gerstein and Dr. Joseph Gerstein, according to a 2003 wedding announcement. Both of Gerstein’s parents worked in the medical field, according to The New York Times article that announced his marriage to June Shih.
“His father, a retired internist, was a medical director of the Tufts Health Plan, a nonprofit health management organization in Waltham, Mass. He and the bridegroom’s mother, a registered nurse, now work in Weston for Smart Recovery, a nonprofit drug and alcohol program,” the article said.
He also wrote a 1991 Massachusetts law that required police departments at colleges and universities to maintain a public log of arrests and crime reports, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
“While not a lawyer, Gerstein’s an expert on the Freedom of Information Act and has pursued several lawsuits seeking records on federal contracting, allegations of abuse of detainees at Guantanamo, use of the sneak-and-peek provisions of the Patriot Act, and the government’s handling of leaks of classified information,” his RCFP profile says.
5. Gerstein Married June Shih in 2003 After the Couple Met at Harvard
Gerstein married June Shih August 2, 2003, according to their wedding announcement published in The New York Times. They met at Harvard University, and they were married while he was working as a correspondent for ABC News. At the time, Shih was a freelance writer who was studying law at Stanford University.
Shih worked as a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and went on to work as her chief speechwriter for her senatorial campaign, the announcement says.
“June Shih is a writer and lawyer with more than 20 years’ experience in public policy, communications, and speechwriting,” her website says. “In 1994, she began her career as a cops and courts reporter for a Florida newspaper, but left after a year to assist then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton with her syndicated newspaper column and speeches.”