A Record Set by the OSG During the Obama Years

The Solicitor General’s Office (OSG) has a special relationship with the Supreme Court.  In the role of adviser the Solicitor General is often referred to as the 10th Justice.  The OSG enjoys much higher than average success in bringing cases to the Court and is even asked to give its opinions on whether the Court should…

The Strategic Right – Oral Arguments at the Beginning of the 2017 Term

Several possible facets of the justices’ new oral argument strategies became apparent during the first week of oral arguments for the 2017 Supreme Court term.  The Court began with a series of high-profile cases – perhaps none as discussed and hotly contested as Gill v. Whitford which looks at gerrymandered voting districts in Wisconsin.  The…

The Court’s Recent Lack of Support for the Federal Government’s Agenda

This is the first of a series of two posts examining the federal government’s litigation in the Supreme Court. While this post looks at the last several terms of government litigation, the next will analyze the government’s upcoming cases.   The federal government, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), is the most frequent…

Crunching Data From this Past Term

It has been almost two months since the completion of the Supreme Court’s 2016 term. Scholars and analysts have pored over Court’s decisions. SCOTUSBlog released its Stat Pack which contains many interesting statistical trends and details from the term.  Each term, a group of professors now organized through the Washington University in St. Louis School of…

Loud Voices From Below

The Supreme Court only takes a small fraction of cases petitioned to it every year and there is no perfect formula for ensuring a case makes its way to the Court.  There are, however, several signals that can help a case along the way.  Much of what matters has to do with uniformity in case…

An Uphill Battle for the Court’s Liberals

“[I]f a law be in opposition to the Constitution, if both the law and the Constitution apply to a particular case, so that the Court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the Constitution, or conformably to the Constitution, disregarding the law, the Court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs…

A Matter of Life and Death

The Supreme Court may be on summer recess but that doesn’t mean the justices are free from work-related obligations.  Throughout the year some of the most significant decisions the justices make are performed unilaterally.  The justices are each assigned to a certain geographic region associated with a judicial circuit or circuits and by virtue of…

Justice Gorsuch: What We Know and What We Should Expect

Justice Gorsuch is just over two months into his tenure on the Supreme Court.  There are many unknowns regarding how he will judge at this level.  The cases he will decide on the Supreme Court are predominately different from those he saw on the 10th Circuit.  There is also an intuition that circuit court judges’…

A New Way of Defining Oral Argument Terrain

Oral arguments are one of the more empirically studied areas of Supreme Court decision making.  This may make intuitive sense. Oral arguments are one of the few moments where the justices’ decision making process transpires before members of the public.  Audio of these arguments is recorded and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.  Video…well…

Gorsuch’s First Majority Opinion and Some Comparisons

This post contains information on the split votes in the Roberts Court Justices’ first decisions’, the days between oral argument and their first decisions, and the lower court that ruled prior to the Supreme Court in each decision. Of the justices on the Court (and Justice Scalia), three had non-unanimous first opinions.  Ginsburg had the…

Why Justice Kennedy May Not Leave The Court Right Now

The Supreme Court is not an institution with regular turnover.  Since the Justices have life tenure, many stay on well into old age and often for decades.  The Justices are insulated in their positions for life and there is little incentive to move to other jobs.  In fact, the last Justice to leave the Court…