Cert Winners 2014: Attorneys and Firms

Thinking of submitting a case to the Supreme Court? Most likely not.  If so, be prepared to have your case rejected.  The Supreme Court is extremely selective about the cases it hears typically only taking cases with circuit splits, of great importance, and with issues that have sufficiently percolated through the lower courts.  The majority…

Oral Arguments in Nichols v. United States

Federal laws for registered sex offenders are designed to be clear – under the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) if you are on this list and you move residences you need to update your residency.  And yet, what happens if you leave the United States? SORNA does not specify.  This is the issue…

Top Briefs in Friedrichs v. CA Teachers Assn.

(image from Dover Teachers’ Union) With 48 amicus curiae briefs filed at the merits phase and a total of 57 amicus briefs filed throughout the case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (No. 14-915) has drawn much interest both from the public and from the policy community. It also provides the fodder I was looking for…

Comparing Opinions in Montgomery v. Louisiana

In the second in a series of posts where I analyze recent opinions, I compare the majority and dissenting opinions in Montgomery v. Louisiana (No. 14-280).  The Court dealt with two questions in the case: Does the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, which held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits mandatory sentencing schemes…

Opinion Stats: Americold Realty Trust v. ConAgra Foods, Inc.

In this new series I look at Supreme Court opinions to provide a sense of the opinion’s writing quality and content.  Although there is no consensus measure for writing quality, I have used StyleWriter 4 in past papers (e.g. Counting on Quality) and it does a good job of tailoring linguistic analyses to legal content…

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…

Comparing Amicus Briefs in Evenwel v. Abbott

A friend of mine practicing in a large firm recently asked me about comparing documents for similarity.  While his interests are from a transactional standpoint, the same methods can be used to compare documents within or between cases.  To continue with the amicus brief trope from the last post, I thought it would be interesting…

Amicus Briefs and Oral Arguments in the Roberts Court

Do the Justices and their clerks do their homework by reading and analyzing amicus briefs prior to oral arguments? In preparation for a larger project, I thought it would be interesting to probe this question (this also seems timely given Adam Liptak’s column in the New York Times on a recent study examining amicus briefs). …

Forecasting Votes in Hellerstedt

On March 2nd, the Court heard oral arguments in perhaps the most publicized case of the Term – Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (No. 15-274).  The case brings into question Texas’ new controversial law limiting who can perform abortions. Prior to oral arguments expectations were already high that the Justices would split along ideological lines…

The Breyer Court? (Network Analysis of the Justices Votes in OT 2014)

In political science ideal points are the most common measure describing judges’ votes.  The goal of ideal points in the study of courts is locating the relative political ideology of a judge on a scale of liberal to conservative.  Of course what it actually means to be a conservative or liberal judge is somewhat contested….

Mining the Majority Opinion in Lockhart

Yesterday’s opinions in Lockhart showcased some unusual themes for the Court.  Between the majority and dissenting opinions the Justices referenced the Kansas City Royals and the movies Star Wars and Zoolander.  Atypical to say the least.  Here is take a deeper look at the language of Lockhart’s majority opinion using a few text mining and analysis…