Arguments in U.S. v. Washington

Here’s your daily dose of SCOTUS Analytics. Today the justices heard arguments in US v. Washington about Whether a state workers’ compensation law that applies exclusively to federal contract workers who perform services at a specified federal facility is barred by principles of intergovernmental immunity. Malcolm Stewart argued for the US and Tera Heintz, from the WA SG’s office argued for WA. Let’s dive in

There are several aspects of the arguments worth perusing. First is the total engagement of the justices. The first figure shows the overview of talking. Malcolm Stewart has the longest talking turns while Justice Breyer has the most extensive turns for the justices. Justice Barrett engages with both sides.

When broken down across the entire arguments. Justice Breyer spoke most of the justices, and then Justices Barrett and Kagan.

The most common words in the overall arguments are shown in this wordcloud. State, federal, and facility all come up frequently implying the concerns of federalism inherent in this case.

When we look at the arguments broken down by side we see how the justices focused their relative attention on either party. Justice Kagan for instance was active during the petitioner’s arguments while Justice Thomas was much less so.

Justice Breyer who did not speak during the petitioner’s arguments was quite active during the respondent’s turn as were Justices Kagan, Barrett, and Gorsuch.

Looking at the word count differentials between petitioner and respondents turns, often a predictive measure of how the justices may vote, Justice Breyer had the greatest differential speaking 729 more words to the respondent, then Justices Gorsuch, and Barrett. Justice Sotomayor had the greatest differential in favor of speaking to Malcolm Stewart.


On Twitter: @AdamSFeldman

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