Chief Justices’ Dissents (Vinson through Roberts)


(Image from New Yorker – 2007)

A Twitter thread this morning started between Jeffrey Rosen and Kenneth Jost describes the number of dissenting opinions authored by Chief Justices – specifically comparing the number authored by Chief Justices Marshall and Taft (with relatively low number each) with Chief Justice Roberts (relatively higher comparatively).  I thought it would be interesting to look at some other Chief Justices’ dissent counts so I went to the Supreme Court Database which has information covering the 1946 to 2014 terms.  This provides information for Chief Justices Vinson, Warren, Burger, Rehnquist, and Roberts.  I took a look at the total number of dissents these Chief Justices both authored and co-authored.  In terms of total dissents authored (focusing on cases that were briefed and orally argued), Chief Justice Vinson authored 13, Warren 42, Burger 105, Rehnquist 83 (as Chief), and Roberts (through OT 2014) 39.  Their per-term written dissent counts are Vinson 2.17, Warren 2.8, Burger 6.56, Rehnquist 4.61, and Roberts 4.33.

The numbers rise when looking at the total number of dissents these Chief Justices authored or co-authored in all cases (not only those briefed and orally argued).  Chief Justice Vinson totals 23 written dissents, Warren 82, Burger 150, Rehnquist 89, and Roberts 52.


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