Changes in Supreme Court Oral Argument Format: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

With a week of telephonic Supreme Court oral arguments under the belt we now have meaningful data points to compare old style oral arguments with the new framework. These new arguments were not without mishaps, however, as both justices and attorneys attempted to navigate this new terrain.  With the Supreme Court transcript data and audio…

Younger vs. Older

Yesterday the Court released a divided decision in Georgia v Public.Resource.Org with Justices Roberts, Kagan, Sotomayor, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh in the majority and Justices Alito, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Breyer in dissent. As several folks pointed out, this was an interesting split of the justices since the majority was composed of the five younger justices on…

Something We Haven’t Seen in the Supreme Court Since the Civil War

The Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865 and the Court was affected by the war like all national institutions. During the second year of the war in 1862 the Court decided 41 cases by signed decisions and in 1864 the Court decided 57 such cases.  According to the United States Supreme Court Database,…

SCOTUSBlog Interim Stat Pack April 2020

The Interim Stat Pack is now up on SCOTUSBlog’s website. Here are some key takeaways: The last time the Supreme Court closed its doors to the public due to an epidemic was during the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918. Through March of this term, the court has decided fewer cases by signed opinion than it has…

Locating Weak Causal Strands in the Justices’ Opinions

In the introduction to the eye opening work on the Supreme Court certiorari process Deciding to Decide, author H.W. Perry summarizes the Court’s lack of institutional transparency. Perry wrote, “Although some rules are published, most of the internal procedures are by consensus, are unpublished, and are frequently unknown” (p. 17). Perry goes on, “We on…

Things We Haven’t Seen Before at the Outset of a Roberts Court Term

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is traditionally one of the most active justices at the beginning of each term. It should come as no surprise therefore that she authored three of the Court’s first 13 decisions for the 2019 Supreme Court term . She tends to have the backing of the Court in these early term decisions…

Some More About This Term

This short post contains data about the questions the Supreme Court seeks to resolve this term. It contains a chart of the most frequent words in the questions after common English words like “the,” “and,” and “of” and words with two or fewer characters were eliminated. Next is a chart of the top two or…

About this Term: OT 2019

Even though not all briefs are filed in cases that will be argued before the Supreme Court this term, the interest level in the Court’s cases is at an apex.  There was a lot of hype leading into this term, as it is the first where all nine sitting justices have at least a term…

Amicus Brief in Google v. Oracle

James Daily of Skopos Labs and I filed an amicus brief in Google v. Oracle today with the help of Elie Herman of Wilson Elser. We take a unique approach of looking at what would happen if Supreme Court Justices were limited in the language they use in opinions as a comparison for what could…

How Chief Justice Roberts Articulates His Ethos Through His Year End Reports

Chief Justice John Roberts released an impassioned Year End Report on December 31, 2019, which generated much commentary.  The New York Times, for instance wrote about the Chief Justice’s calls for an independent federal judiciary.  The Wall Street Journal examined Justice Roberts’ warnings against rumor and false information.  These values inherent in the Chief’s report…

The Beginning of the 2019 Term and How It Stacks Up

June is traditionally the month when the public focuses on the Supreme Court.  On this note, many of the Court’s most prolific and politically tinged decisions in recent years were rendered in previous Junes. These include Rucho v. Common Cause and Department of Commerce v. New York (the census case) last term, Janus v. State, County, and…