Here, courtesy of Dean Velvel, is Professor Tribe's statement of April 13, 2005, released April 14, 2005:
April 13, 2005
Statement of Professor Laurence H. Tribe
When a magazine article last fall identified several passages and phrases in my 1985 book, God Save This Honorable Court, that were not properly attributed to Professor Henry Abraham's 1974 book, Justices and Presidents, I reviewed both books in an effort to try to determine what had happened two decades earlier. In a letter I sent at once to Prof. Abraham, I wrote that, while I had singled out his book in a bibliographic note as the "leading political history of Supreme Court appointments," that general acknowledgement was no substitute for more precise attribution. I promptly did the only thing I thought I could do to set things right: I issued a public statement apologizing to Prof. Abraham, acknowledging my lapse and accepting full responsibility for it.
For over six months, I have said nothing further about this 20-year-old error, even as I have seen some mischaracterize it as intentional theft of another's ideas and have watched as my character and integrity have been impugned. I did not think I should comment while President Summers and Dean Kagan reviewed the results of the inquiry they asked President Bok and Professors Knowles and Verba to conduct.
President Summers and Dean Kagan have now issued a joint statement concurring that what I did 20 years ago was a significant lapse in proper academic practice but adding that the unattributed material related more to matters of form than of substance and stating their firm conviction "that the error was the product of inadvertence rather than intentionality."
No statement can erase the fact of my having been less careful than I should have been in my 1985 book, and today I want to reiterate my apology for that error and my assumption of responsibility for it. At the same time, I am gratified that the University's inquiry found no basis for accusations of dishonesty or of intellectual theft. Therefore, like the University, I now consider the matter closed and will not comment further about it.