Not All Appeals Are Equal

Every year the lawyer research and ranking company Chambers & Partners (sometimes mentioned as C&P herein) puts out a list of top appellate lawyers and firms (in a previous post I looked at some of the listed firms’ cert performance). Chambers uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodology to come up with its various…

How Gorsuch’s First Year Compares

In 1986 when Justice Scalia joined the Supreme Court, the bench looked quite different than it does today. In fact, none of the justices on that Court still sit on the Supreme Court as Scalia was the final holdout.  In 1986 the Court was composed of five justices who were predominately ideologically conservative and four…

An Opinion is Worth at Least 1,000 Words

Supreme Court opinions come in all different shapes and sizes.  Some are short and sweet, others are dense, long, and hard to follow.  Some reasons behind relative opinion length are obvious.  Even though the justices tend not to grant cases with facile solutions, certain cases are more complex and involve extensive fact patterns.  Along with…

The Interpretive Dance

In the Supreme Court’s first decision of the term, Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited language from the court’s 2010 decision in Magwood v. Patterson stipulating that “[w]e cannot replace the actual text with speculation as to Congress’ intent.” Indeed, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the 2015 decision Ross…

Slow & Steady

The Supreme Court is slowly plodding through the 2017 term. The court began the term at a historically sluggish pace, and although the justices have picked up the pace in certain areas, other signs point to the possibility that the court’s output this term will continue at the same rate. First, looking at the court’s…

BriefCatching 2017 Cert-Stage Filings

  Good writing quality is one of the greatest assets for attorneys practicing before any court.  While there is no universally accepted measure of good writing, software engineers are currently designing programs that measure writing quality in innovative and accurate ways.  In past, Empirical SCOTUS has employed off-the-shelf metrics for writing quality to compare filings…

When Opposites Attract Ideology Falls to the Wayside

Lots of noise is made about partisan and ideological divides on the Supreme Court.  There tends to be less hubbub surrounding instances when justices that traditionally divide ideologically, vote together. Such surprising coalitions formed in the majority and dissent for the Court’s decision in last week’s Patchak v. Zinke ruling.  Although this decision was met with only…

The Dissenting-est Dissenters on the Modern Court

The Court’s opinions have been sliced, diced, and dissected in various fashions over the years as scholars and practitioners look for overt and latent meanings in the Court’s texts.  An object of study has often been the dissenting opinion.  The dissent is an interesting point of focus because both because of its purpose and its…

Amicus Policy Success in Impactful Supreme Court Decisions

Perhaps the biggest development in the modern Supreme Court alongside the great discretion the justices now have in dictating the cases they hear is the role of interest groups.  Over the past several decades the Supreme Court has increasingly become the forum for such groups and their attempts at persuasion; the object of persuasion being…

Supreme Court Movers and Shakers (Attorneys and Justices)

The consequences of certain decisions have repercussions far beyond those that affect the immediate cases.  While this is an indisputable aspect of decisions from courts of last resort, prognosticating the potential consequences of decisions is an art fraught with questionable inferences.  In a series of decisions the Supreme Court has a substantial policy impact. These…

A Chicken and Egg Problem

One of the more difficult questions facing Supreme Court scholars is trying to decipher the impact of the litigants. Given the secrecy with which the Supreme Court conducts the majority of its business, any effort towards understanding the decision making process is inevitably met with frustration.  The most recent insight we have into any of…

A Difference of Opinion

Since Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court in 2005, several pairs of justices have had notable disagreements in multiple cases.  This is at least in part due to the justices’ polarity of viewpoints and interpretive methods.  It nonetheless creates clear divisions on the Court as the justices have hardened viewpoints on many substantive issues…