The First Nineteen

(image via Boston Globe) So far, this has been an odd and unique Supreme Court Term in several respects.  For instance, Justices Thomas, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor all dissented in the same case (in DirecTV v. Imbrugia – Justice Thomas’ dissent was very different from Justice Ginsburg’s which Justice Sotomayor joined).  We’ve had a Justice pass…

Friedrichs as a Per Curiam Decision

The Court released its decision today in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assn.  The decision which has garnered considerable attention is a single sentence reading: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”  From this we know the Justices split 4-4 and so there was no precedential value to the ruling, and that by doing this the Court…

Justice Sotomayor Shaking Up Post-Scalia Oral Arguments

(image via Los Angeles Times) It has been over a month since Justice Scalia, one of the most engaged Justices in oral arguments since he was confirmed to the Court in 1986, passed away on February 13, 2016.  For all of the commentary surrounding his passing and on the questions surrounding the process of confirming…

Atypical Oral Arguments In Puerto Rico v. Franklin CA Trust

On Tuesday the Court heard arguments in Puerto Rico v. Franklin Cal. Tax-Free Trust a case that examines whether Congress precluded Puerto Rico from the ability to restructure its public utility debt. Specifically the case looks at whether Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code applies to Puerto Rico.  Much of the case and the arguments…

Analysis of the Zubik Arguments

What was said over the course of the 90 minute the oral arguments today in Zubik? Quite a bit. Commentators seem to think the Justices may split their votes four to four (e.g. Adam Liptak from the New York Times) with the Justices predominately to the right: Kennedy, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts voting that the…

Much Ado About Nothing?

Today the Supreme Court decided the seemingly innocuous case of Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore.  This case dealt with the liability of spousal guarantors under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.  On any other day this ruling might have gone unnoticed.  The decision is one line reading, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided…

Each Case in Approximately Ten Words

Why approximately ten words? Well in reality it is in ten n-grams or phrases of one to a few words.  The words not only provide a pithy synopsis of each case, but they also give the parties’ framings of the cases.  I used a method known as keyword extraction to locate these phrases (more about…

The Last Leg of the Term

(image from loc.gov) The end of oral arguments for this Supreme Court Term is around the corner.  With 21 cases left (not counting joined dockets in the same case) I compiled some stats on what is still to come.  This post looks at the attorneys, firms, and parties in these 21 cases.  There are two sections of…

Analyzing News Coverage of Merrick Garland’s Nomination

(image from NPR)   With the help of a nifty tool piece of software that performs topic modeling, I distilled some of the major themes that appeared in national and local news covering the Garland nomination in print and online (this include several articles from some of the most widely read papers, e.g. New York Times…

How Does Garland Compare?

Courtesy of data from the Federal Judicial Center I have compiled statistics for each current Supreme Court Justice as well as for Justice Scalia and Judge Garland.  This should give you some idea of how Garland compares to the current Justices as well as to the Justice who sat on the seat that he will potentially take….

The Age Effect

With a Supreme Court nominee most likely coming in the next day or so to fill Justice Scalia’s seat, there is much speculation on whether the choice will be Merrick Garland or Sri Srinivasan.  If age has a large effect (which is often the case if Presidents wish to preserve their legacies after they leave…

Successful Cert Amici 2014

With 7,006 cases disposed of during the 2014 Supreme Court term, Supreme Court Justices and clerks had an abundance of cases on their plates.  One way that the Justices and clerks find their way to the more important cases (specifically to cases that are important to people beyond the individual parties in the case) is…