Opinions Say What?

One could make a colorable argument that SCOTUS cases decided by one vote are the most important decisions of the Court. One could also argue that unanimous opinions are either the most or least important decisions. Unanimous decisions require the cohesion of all of the justices from both sides of the ideological aisle. With such…

Is the Roberts Court the Least Productive Court of All Time?

The Supreme Court was not always the powerful institution is it today. The original lack of power was part of the Court’s institutional design. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federal Paper #78, “…the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power; that it can never attack with success either of the other…

Do Dissents of the Past Foreshadow Dissents on the Current Court?

Many dissents and powerful ones. That is what we are inevitably going to see at the end of the Supreme Court term as the justices tend to have strong views when dealing with such hot-button issues as those on the Court’s plate. We have many examples of this from the past. One is Rucho v….

Justice Ginsburg Leaves a Lasting Legacy on the Court

In news that probably shouldn’t have been shocking given her health but surprised many nonetheless, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away yesterday from complications from pancreatic cancer.  Lots of heartfelt eulogies made their way across the internet in the minutes and hours that followed Justice Ginsburg’s death.  Within hours of the news of Ginsburg’s passing,…

RBG’s Departure Might Look A Lot Like Thurgood Marshall’s

Justice Ginsburg has had quite a few health scares over the past little over a decade. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009 and subsequently resisted pressure to retire from the Court under Obama’s administration.  With multiple hospital stays this year and a recurrence of her pancreatic cancer, many question how long she will…

Who’s in the Majority?

While few people ever have the opportunity of sitting on the Supreme Court, some similarities exist between this upper echelon of judging and other jobs. One parallel has to do with job satisfaction.  While judges that make it all the way to the Supreme Court should feel accomplished and contented by their achievements, there also…

The Strength of Precedent is in the Justices’ Actions, Not Words

During his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 2005, now Chief Justice Roberts exposited, “Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath, and judges have to have modesty to be open in the decisional process…

Retirement Plan Blues

It is that time of year again. As we near the end of the Supreme Court term, we are experiencing another round of prognostications on whether Justice Kennedy will retire leaving another vacancy for the Trump Administration to fill (last year’s take on the possibility of Kennedy’s retirement can be found here).  About this time of…

Justices, Tenure, and What to Expect Moving Forward

A ninth Justice sits on the Supreme Court today for oral arguments for the first time in over a year.  Justice Gorsuch at 49 years of age has the potential to fill the seat previously occupied by Justice Scalia for years to come.  Gorsuch is on the younger end of the age spectrum for Supreme…

Redistricting Precedent in Light of Evenwel

The Supreme Court decided Evenwel v. Abbott this week – a case with vast implications for legislative districts.  Some see the decision as snubbing Republicans by ruling that states and localities should use total rather than voting population to draw these districts.  Other commentary views the ruling as sufficiently narrow to allow future litigation in the same…